Multi-million pound Prince of Wales Road shake-up revealed - but plans to close it to traffic scrapped
PUBLISHED: 08:15 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:28 11 January 2018
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
A multi-million shake-up of Prince of Wales Road is revealed today, but council bosses have decided not to ban cars from the street - after they discovered their plans would slow down buses.
The potential closure was first mooted in 2009, with proposals to extend the bus route from St Stephen Street along Prince of Wales Road to speed up buses.
Council bosses had proposed making Prince of Wales Road two-way, with only buses, taxis and cyclists allowed. Rose Lane would also be made two way.
But, with changes in traffic elsewhere in the city since the closure was first put forward, traffic modelling has shown shutting Prince of Wales Road and making Rose Lane two-way would lead to slower, not quicker, average bus journey times.
In some cases, they would be almost two minutes slower, so council bosses have scrapped the closure plan.
Instead, they have come up with revised proposals for the area, which councillors are likely to agree to put out for consultation at a meeting next week.
Among changes proposed are:
• Narrowing Rose Lane to two traffic lanes and removing the bus lane. King Street would be closed to general traffic and the traffic lights at St Vedast Street removed, with a give way system instead. The council says that would improve flow and allow the pavement to be widened and a cycle lane put in place.
• A new contraflow cycle lane in Prince of Wales Road heading towards the city centre.
• Closing Eastbourne Place to traffic, with a new public space created on Prince of Wales Road.
• A two-way link between Prince of Wales Road and Mountergate. Traffic leaving Mountergate, including the new car park, would be able to turn right towards the station, rather than being forced left.
• New layout of Agricultural Hall Plain
• Closure of St Faith’s Lane to traffic
• Contraflow cycle lane on Bank Street and shared cycleway on King Street.
There is £2.6m available to make changes, but officers say they may need to apply for extra cash for the later stages of the project.
They acknowledged the work, which could start this September, will cause disruption, but say it would be undertaken in phases.
Work on Rose Lane and King Street would probably start first.
The decision not to ban traffic from Prince of Wales Road has disappointed bus operators.
Steve Wickers, managing director for First Eastern Counties, said: “We are very much disappointed. There has been some excellent work already done in the city centre on measures to improve bus travel that have brought real benefits in reliability of bus services whilst addressing air quality and congestion issues.
“To make bus travel more attractive in Norwich, we need the help of our local authority partners to deliver clear routes without congestion or traffic queues, with priority access to get large volumes of workers, shoppers and visitors into the city centre reliably and without delays.
“We would welcome further discussion and input into how we can jointly improve the scheme for existing and new bus users while also taking into account future population growth in the Greater Norwich area.”
Public will have their say
The views of the public will be important in shaping just what changes are made to the area around Prince of Wales Road.
The Norwich highways agency committee, made up of city and county councillors, is expected to next week agree to put the latest proposals out for consultation.
That consultation is likely to take place in February and March and, if approved in the summer, work could start in September.
John Fisher, chairman of the Norwich highways agency committee, said: “It’s a project which is really the next stage of the many Norwich projects of improving roads, improving traffic times through the city centre and access to the city centre.”
Traffic changes so far have included shake-ups for Rouen Road, Golden Ball Street, Tombland, Grapes Hill, Newmarket Road and Eaton.
Changes to Chartwell Road and Brazen Gate are now under way.