Friday, June 6, 2014
One of the biggest ever shake-ups in how traffic uses Norwich city centre will be stepped up within weeks, as it was revealed cameras could be used to catch and fine drivers who fail to take heed of the changes.
The £1.45m changes will ban cars from St Stephens Street and part of Surrey Street, while controversial changes to Chapel Field North will see that road made two-way.
Council officers have trumpeted the ‘Transport for Norwich’ scheme as a way to ease congestion in the centre of Norwich, with the current work to put a bus lane in Grapes Hill also part of the project.
With the scheme looking to ban general traffic from a number of streets, council bosses have revealed they want to install new cameras to catch any drivers who ignore the new regulations.
At a meeting of city and county councillors next week, members of the Norwich highways agency committee will be asked to agree to the principle of using cameras to enforce the new bus priority measures.
If the cameras are brought in, then drivers who still head down the roads once cars have been banned run the risk of being hit with a fixed penalty notice. That is likely to be £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days and hiked to £90 if not paid within 28 days.
A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: “The nature of the St Stephens/Chapel Field North scheme means that it has to be enforced for the benefits of a reduction in traffic to be felt.
“Since bus access is a fundamental feature of the scheme, it is not possible to physically prevent general traffic from using these areas as well.
“The alternative is therefore enforcement through other means and so cameras have been proposed as what we feel is the most effective and viable option.
“As a package of changes, this will improve the reliability and efficiency of public transport services and make the city’s busy shopping streets safer and more pleasant places to be.”
As well as banning cars from St Stephens Street, the Transport for Norwich scheme will prevent all traffic, except buses, from Rampant Horse Street between Marks and Spencer and Debenhams by creating a bus gate on Rampant Horse Street. Traffic will also be stopped from crossing into Rampant Horse Street from Westlegate.
Chapel Field North will be widened for two-way traffic by removing the pavement on the Chapelfield Gardens side, with a new path created in the park.
Council officers say traffic would not be able to get into the city centre through Chapel Field North, because of the bus gate in Rampant Horse Street.
Little Bethel Street would also be shut to vehicles, with Cleveland Road and Bethel Street becoming two-way because of changes at Grapes Hill roundabout.
If cameras are introduced, there would probably be one in St Stephens Street and two in Rampant Horse Street.
Work on the scheme is earmarked to begin in July, with Chapel Field North set to be where the first work begins, to widen the carriageway by removing a pavement.
• What’s your view on the scheme and the use of cameras to enforce it? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.