‘Why was it built like a racetrack?’ - The best reader letters about the NDR from 2019

PUBLISHED: 09:07 28 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:28 29 December 2019

It's been another year of frustration on the NDR for many drivers. Picture: Neil Didsbury

It's been another year of frustration on the NDR for many drivers. Picture: Neil Didsbury


The Northern Distribution Road, officially known as Broadland Northway, continues to be a hot topic for our readers.

More than a year after it was completed many are still concerned about its safety, while others have come to praise its usefulness.

Here are some of your best reader letters on the subject.

- NDR designed to be a racetrack - Phillip Goodall, Weston Green Road, Weston Longville

A recent letter, on the subject of roundabout problems on the "Northern Broadway", added that a lot of drivers using it need to be reminded that "it isn't a racetrack".

This raises the question: "Why was it built like a racetrack?" And then the further question: "Is the proposed Western Link section going to be more of the same?"

The basic point of the Northern Distributor Route — as the name suggested — was to facilitate essentially local traffic movement to and from outlying areas to the North, and across the Northern half of Norwich. It isn't a major road itself. It isn't about long-distance through traffic. It isn't the Newmarket bypass.

But it's been built like it! A much narrower, slower, ordinary road, following the contours of the landscape, not gouged through it like the M1, would have done the job, with nothing like these levels of environmental damage and ongoing noise and visual pollution.

Now the final link, to the A47, is going to be put in. An ordinary 30 or 40mph road, wide enough just to keep traffic moving, could follow the high ground behind Taverham, cross the Wensum with an ordinary bridge somewhere below Ringland, and follow, parallel, or even double-up with, existing (currently rat-run) roads with remarkably little additional damage to countryside or noise and nuisance to residents.

It certainly wouldn't require a 600 metre viaduct, within half a mile of undeveloped high ground! It wouldn't, I think, cost the upwards of £150m estimated for the currently short-listed B, C, and D routes.

Yet the timings for these routes, given in the consultation documents, assume an average speed of 70mph! Everywhere else there is strong, growing and often punitive downward pressure on driving speeds. Are we really going to build another brutal, multi-million pound racetrack, this time across this rather precious, and still unspoilt area of the Wensum Valley?

- NDR is waste of cash - I Smith, Felmingham

Ever since the Broadland Northway (NDR) was opened, all I have witnessed every evening are long traffic jams of vehicles on the Wroxham Road stretching up to a mile back to Norwich.

All the vehicles are pumping out huge volumes of CO2 and noxious and poisonous fumes whilst stuck in these traffic jams for the best part of 15 minutes.

These queues also appear to be happening a lot leading out of Norwich on the North Walsham Road and I suspect the same thing is also occurring on many of the other main routes that intersect the NDR.

It was a handful of councillors that decided to spend £200million of ratepayers' money on their vanity project despite the large majority of the public opposing it.

One of the main reasons put forward by the councillors to justify the huge spend of money that they did not have was that it was needed in order to improve the exit of traffic out of the city and also to reduce pollution.

I see no evidence of this myself so wonder if the council actually conducted traffic flow research to show the effect of the NDR.

If it has not reduced traffic and travelling times then this has turned out to be a "white elephant" as many predicted and proof if any is needed that spending almost as much again crossing the Wensum Valley is utter madness.

- The NDR has many benefits - Tim Cleland, School Road, Drayton

At last some facts that show the way that the NDR has benefited the west of the city.

We have found that driving to the north and east of the county is so much easier.

Perhaps Mr Lewis should consider what his constituency would be like if there were no A47 southern bypass and all the traffic used the ring road as it used to!

Please get on with the Wensum link as soon as practicable and help the traffic from the west avoid blocking Boundary Road to get to the north of our lovely county.

- Here's the solution to all the issues with the NDR - Peter Gallon, The Green, Paston

There seems little prospect of an end to the fevered speculation about the mooted western end to the "road to nowhere" aka the Broadland Northway or NDR as it is best known.

New road projects are always contentious, even more so in these febrile times where everyone feels free to be offended about practically anything.

What to do with the western end of the NDR is prima facie fairly straightforward, he said, inviting a wave of approbation.

The NDR needs to convey traffic from the south west (London) to and from the north Norfolk coast as swiftly and smoothly as possible without trashing the Wensum valley in the process.

The solution would be to tunnel under the Wensum and take the emerging road straight across country to join the A11 at Wymondham with a full interchange.

Even build a limited junction with the A47 en route.

All those Londoners heading for their second homes at Cley, Stiffkey and Wells, etc will spare our fine City of Norwich and the eastern end of the NDR, from all that traffic. Brilliant!

No ugly viaduct across the Wensum valley and the good people of Ringland Hills are delivered at last from the rat run that has blighted their lives and tiny roads for years.

Whilst all this is going on, the perfect opportunity to make some current misconceived intersections with the NDR, such as the awful B1150 North Walsham road roundabout, into proper junctions with slip-roads and even a flyover for through traffic.

- The NDR is perfect for numpty drivers - Steve Mackinder, Sluice Road, Denver

Upon reading the news about the NDR in the press (November 5) I found I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Apparently there are "lessons to be learned" because the accident rate is high on the Northern Distributor Road.

Talk about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted!

How many letters have been printed here saying this very thing?

There are two lessons these road planners need to learn.

The first lesson is to try and bear in mind the catastrophic miscalculation of the cost of the "road to nowhere" after their initial budget was overshot by a whopping £60m of our much-needed county funding (nearly a 40pc underestimate).

The second lesson is more important.

If you lay miles of new, smooth, wide, sweeping tarmac you will automatically encourage your average motoring "numpty" to drive like Lewis Hamilton — only without the skills but with the inevitable crashes.

Their casual ineptitude with regard to our safety and our money needs addressing before we let these people get their pencils and paper out to draw any more roads for us.

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