All hail the Broadland Northway
- Credit: Archant
The newly-opened Broadland Northway is the road we've long deserved, says David Clayton.
When Norwich's Southern By-pass opened back in 1992, I scooped up my elderly father and took him for a ride along it and back again. Pointless, in a way, but I wanted him to share the joy of modern motoring finally coming to Norfolk. He was no longer an active driver but had endured many a tortuous journey north with all of us kids in the back of the car pleading, 'Are we there yet? How much longer?' It always seemed 'much longer'.
Back in the Sixties, when we lived in Gorleston, a summer Saturday trip to Yorkshire for a week's holiday had us queuing to get over Great Yarmouth's Haven Bridge, queuing to get through Acle. On to Norwich and more interminable queues to traverse the city to head westwards on the Dereham Road. We waited in line for what seemed like hours to get through a set of traffic lights in the middle of Dereham, likewise Swaffham, to then face the bottleneck of King's Lynn. The reward for that was the endlessly dull A17 before ever we saw the dual carriageway of the A1 at Newark. The journey to Yorkshire took all day – and a damned long day it was too.
My father is no longer with us but if I could, I'd whisk him along the newly-opened Broadland Northway because, at last, we are getting the modern roads we've been denied for years.
For a lot of my working life I've had cause to drive all over the country and have both marvelled at and cursed (with jealousy) the majestic by-passes, modern expressways and endless dual carriageways which headed to, and swept round cities no better than our own. It puzzled me that the closer you got to Norfolk's borders, the more inferior the road network became, and the journey just slowed down. How come? Why had we been starved of decent trunk roads to, from and around our county?
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So, thank you for the NDR. 'Road to Nowhere?' Absolutely not! Quite frankly, it's now a road to pretty much everywhere north of our Fine City and not before time. No longer will I have to endure the unpredictable, stop/start journey around the congested ring road.
A dash to Norwich International Airport will be less stressful and there's now the joy of driving past and seeing all the planes parked at the aviation museum to put you in the mood for a flight. Fire up the Vulcan, I'm on my way! New vistas of the county have opened up and the fact my not-yet-updated satnav implies I'm driving across fields feels naughty, but oh so nice.
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The NDR has cost more than was quoted for, and fair-dos for criticising that. Go fight a harder bargain next time with another contractor. But in my humble view, Norfolk has been short-changed for decades as far as roads are concerned, so if the public purse has been plundered a bit more this time, that's fine by me. I've been paying my road tax, the revenue on fuel and all my personal taxes, so it's my turn and our turn to get something significant back.
I get the fact that punching a road through green fields is abhorrent to some but there's nothing new about fettling the topography to make life easier. What must protesters have said when the notorious Acle Straight cut a swathe across the Halvergate Marshes in the mid-nineteenth century to get a more direct route to the coast? It saved time and miles for Yarmouth-bound travellers back then, so we've always tried to create better and swifter routes for the convenience of us all.
Right everyone, brace yourself. Now the really difficult bit, dualling all the A47 – just for my Dad!