Highways Agency point drivers to 52 mile diversion as four mile stretch of A47 is closed for seven nights
- Credit: Archant
MOTORISTS will be sent on a 52-mile cross country trek on some of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire's most rural back roads when a four mile stretch of the A47 is closed for roadworks.
The diversion has been labelled an 'arrogant disregard for motorists' by MP Steve Barclay who has lobbied Government Roads Minister Stephen Hammond to look at the 'ridiculous' plan.
The Highways Agency has arranged for resurfacing and line marking along the A47 between Guyhirn roundabout and Redmoor Lane roundabout at Wisbech.
While engineers work from 8pm to 6am hapless drivers will be sent along an alternative route that will cross two counties and add at least an hour and a half onto journey times.
Local people will know of two alternative 10-mile diversions - through Wisbech St Mary or Friday Bridge.
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But unwitting drivers from out of the area, including lorry drivers working through the night, will be sent on an epic journey to replace the short stretch of closed trunk road.
The roadworks take place over nine nights from Thursday July 4 to Saturday July 13.
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The Highways Agency said that a clearly signed diversion would send drivers travelling west on the A47 via A1101, A1122, A10, A142 and A142 to rejoin the A47 at Guyhirn.
The route takes motorists on a night time jolly through Outwell, Downham Market, Denver, Littleport, Ely, Chatteris, March and back to Guyhirn.
Drivers travelling east would follow the same diversion in the opposite direction.
Mr Barclay said the 52-mile 'round the houses tour' was 'frankly ridiculous.'
'Anyone unfortunate enough to follow the recommended route will face at least one and a half hour diversion through winding rural roads,' he said.
'This is yet another illustration of the Agency's complete disregard for motorists who will be inconvenienced not just by the extra time it takes but also significant extra cost.
'They (Highways Agency) need to ensure that the long overdue maintenance works on the A47 are completed as soon as possible in order to ensure minimum inconvenience to drivers.
'This kind of guidance completely overlooks the serious knock-on effect diversions can have on local businesses and services.'
'They must change the suggested route before anyone has the misfortune to take this ridiculous detour,' he said.
Wisbech councillor Jonathan Farmer described the proposed diversion as 'a triumph for mindless bureaucracy over common sense'.
He said: 'Sending people a gallon's worth of petrol (for a car) on a diversion is ridiculous. It is a waste £10 of drivers' money in a recession.
'Wisbech St Mary and Friday Bridge are available alternatives. It shouldn't cause too many problems, it's only a few nights.'
A Highways Agency spokesperson said: 'Diversion routes need to be capable of handling trunk road traffic.
'As well as cars, trunk roads are used by HGVs and other large or heavy vehicles. Height and weight restrictions need to be carefully considered when planning diversion routes to avoid sending oversize vehicles down unsuitable or narrow roads.
'We work closely with local authorities to plan the most suitable diversion route for all vehicles.'