December 13 2013 Latest news:
By Anthony Carroll
Friday, August 23, 2013
Campaigners were celebrating this week after controversial plans for a new A12 junction on the outskirts of Lowestoft were radically revised by county transport chiefs.
The rethink over proposals for the £5m Lowestoft northern spine road should see a new roundabout built at the junction with Corton Long Lane – rather than a set of traffic lights.
In what is being hailed as people’s power and a “victory for common sense”, Suffolk County Council has agreed to reverse its decision to press head with plans for a lights-control junction after people living in the Corton Long Lane and Blundeston Road area raised fears that it would cause traffic snarl-ups.
One of those celebrating is Corton Parish Council chairman Stephen Pavey, who had voiced strong objections to the traffic lights plan, warning it could turn surrounding roads into rat-runs.
Mr Pavey, who lives on Corton Long Lane said: “This is absolutely fantastic news. It’s absolutely the right decision by the county council because a roundabout will keep traffic flowing, instead of stop and start traffic lights. I’m delighted to see the county council has listened to people’s concerns and acted.
“Not only is a roundabout better at keeping traffic flowing than traffic lights, it is cheaper to maintain as the costs are lower costs... I’d like to thank Suffolk County Council for reconsidering the roundabout option.”
Last month, the county council approved plans for phase five of the northern spine road. Work is due to start next May on the single-carriageway road between the Millennium Way-Bentley Drive roundabout and the A12 Corton Long Lane junction in an effort to take traffic away from Bentley Drive and Yarmouth Road.
The plan approved by the council’s development control committee initially included traffic lights.
But, after concerns were raised about the viability of the new junction, the council has now re-submitted its proposals to include the roundabout, which will also link into Blundeston Road.
Graham Wade, chairman of Blundeston Parish Council, was also delighted the traffic lights had been ditched
He said: “This is a victory for common sense and is fantastic news. Well done to the council.
“This spine road has been years in the making – and now we need to look at a third river crossing.”
Len Jacklin, county councillor for Oulton, had also been lobbying for the traffic lights to be dropped, and he said the authority should have opted for a roundabout in the first place.
“It’s a pity the council did not flag it up earlier but now common sense has prevailed,” he said. “I think the roundabout will be much easier for traffic. If we had traffic lights there would have been lines of vehicles at the junction. I’m absolutely delighted with the council’s change of mind.”
The revised plans will be resubmitted later this year and, once approved by county council’s development control committee, work can start on the spine road in May. It is due to be completed in 2015.
Motorists will be able to travel at 40mph on the new road – 10mph faster than on Yarmouth Road.
The roundabout will see parts of Blundeston Road turned into cul-de-sacs as the spine road cuts through it, leading to the loss of one home.
The county council was able to revise the approved plans for the road after the government introduced new measures last month which relaxed the rules governing nationally-important highways projects.
Graham Newman, Suffolk cabinet member for roads and transport, said: “This is a much-needed new section of road in Lowestoft costing a lot of money, so it’s important that we get the plans right.
“A number of local residents had expressed concerns at the prospect of having a signalled junction with Yarmouth Road. It is therefore extremely gratifying that further investigation uncovered this change in the law which has made it possible for us to improve the design of the junction.
“Not only will the northern spine road remove traffic from the residential area of Bentley Drive, it will also alleviate congestion on the A12 and other smaller roads in the area.
“There is still much to be done to reduce traffic congestion and improve the transport network in Lowestoft and Suffolk County Council will continue to work with Waveney District Council and our partners to do just that.”
Once completed, the new road will also include a shared path and cycleway.
Highways officials estimate that 85pc of the traffic using it will be vehicles guided away from Bentley Drive. They say it should also alleviate some of the congestion on the A12 and shorten journey times.
In May, the government awarded £4.63m in funding for the project and county council is contributing £1.5m.
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