‘Perfect storm’ of problems at West Lynn junction where spate of crashes prompts closure of slip road

PUBLISHED: 11:00 02 October 2012

The junction on Clenchwarton Road. Picture; Matthew Usher.

The junction on Clenchwarton Road. Picture; Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2012

£55,000 ‘improvement’ at West Norfolk junction to be closed by the county council after CCTV captures poor driving

Drivers taking risks present a ‘unique’ problem at a West Lynn junction where a slip road will be closed this week to make it safer.

CCTV camers installed over the junction captured motorists pulling into the path of oncoming traffic, and the slip road will close at the end of this week.

Traffic lights could be installed after April next year and the cameras will remain in the meantime.

Clenchwarton Parish Council was told that there was not enough money to provide a roundabout at the junction, but £175,000 could be found for traffic lights.

“Nobody ever dreamed we would have a situation where drivers would simply pull out in front of traffic going towards the pullover roundabout. It’s unique, we have not witnessed it anywhere else. It’s probably the result of lots of components’ coming together, like the perfect storm,” said Tim Edmunds, highways development control manager at Norfolk County Council.

Mr Edmunds told the meeting the CCTV cameras had captured some “very poor driver behaviour,” with people turning right into Wisbech Road and pulling across traffic heading towards the Pullover roundabout.

Closing the slip road is a temporary measure before a permanent solution can be funded next year.

“It won’t happen overnight, but we are very uncomfortable seeing that junction continue to operate as it is into the winter,” he said.

Residents had been campaigning for the closure of the slip road after a spate of collisions and near-misses at the site.

The slip lane, at the Clenchwarton Road junction, was first installed as part of a £55,000 improvement project last year and was branded a ‘waste of money’ by campaigners who demanded its closure.

But in August highways officials insisted the junction was “not remarkable” and said the layout had worked well in other parts of Norfolk.

Karl Rands, highways manager for the western area, told a meeting on August 9 that the crashes were puzzling and the council’s limited resources would not be spent at the site.

But a change of heart was announced last week when the county council said the slip road would be closed after officials had seen the camera footage.

Around 20 people attended the meeting at Clenchwarton Memorial Hall on Monday evening.

Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation at Norfolk County Council, said: “It’s top of our priorities list. It will find it’s way onto our capital programme and push something else off. We usually know what’s going to happen at a junction, but this case is a complete phenomenon. We don’t understand it, but the danger is there.”

“I was honestly thinking we would come back here and tell you there was nothing wrong with the junction, but the evidence is indisputable.”

Officers also looked at the option of re-opening the old road near the East Coast Business Park to resolve the problem, but it was disregarded.

Chairman Sue Cross, who had branded the scheme a waste of money, said she was disappointed there was not a more exact time-frame, but thanked the county council for taking action.

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