Walkers in Dereham frustrated by flooded underpass

Sandra Scott in the flooded underpass in Toftwood, near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher. Sandra Scott in the flooded underpass in Toftwood, near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Thursday, January 30, 2014
6:00 AM

People attempting to walk between Toftwood and Dereham via a designated footpath have once again been left marooned either side of an underpass which has been flooded.

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The passage connecting Middlemarch Road in Toftwood and the Moorgate estate has been flooded since last Wednesday.

At its height, the water was measured at eight inches and people have thrown pieces of wood and bricks into it to help them get across.

Those not willng to wade through the water have to make a mile and a quarter detour to get to the other side - while some are believed to be risking their lives by crossing the busy A47.

The footpath, which is also a designated bike path, is the main pedestrian and cycle gateway between Toftwood and Dereham and is used by schoolchildren, workers, shoppers, postmen and dog walkers.

There has been some confusion over which authority is responsible for the footway with both Norfolk County Council and the Highways Agency passing the buck onto one another - but County Hall officials have said they will get the flood cleared today.

Sandra Scott, 66, who lives in Middlemarch Road, said: “People who don’t know it’s flooded get to the underpass with all their shopping and then they have to turn around and walk around the long way.

“People are wasting their time by coming down here and then it’s about a 15 to 30 minute extra to go all the way around.”

Patricia Gore, 64, of Middlemarch Road, said she only just made it to her dentist appointment on time after discovering the underpass was blocked and walking the long way round. George Champion, 26, of Recreation Road, said he had to go through the water on his way to work in Dereham and he had to lift his trousers up to his knees.

There are two sets of drains either end of the underpass, one of which is clearly blocked and the other which is currently submerged in water.

A fence close to the underpass has been cut, enabling access to the A47.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “We understand the maintenance of the footway under the A47 at Toftwood near Dereham to be a matter for Norfolk County Council. The Highways Agency is responsible for the structure of the underpass, as it carries the A47 over it. Norfolk County Council is responsible for the footway underneath and any drainage issues affecting the footway. We are liaising with the council over this incident.

“Any fencing immediately around the underpass is the responsibility of an adjacent landowner and we are doing all we can to make them aware. In the meantime, pedestrians are urged not to cross the A47 at this location as with fast-moving traffic they are putting their own safety at risk as well as that of road users.”

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “Our position that the responsibility for the underpass rests with the Highways Agency remains unchanged however clearly the priority is to get the immediate problem sorted and then work out who should foot the bill and look after the underpass in the longer term afterwards.”

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