Crunch time nears over A47 schemes - but Acle Straight unresolved

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England. - Credit: Highways England

A decision is due within months over whether part of the A47 between Great Yarmouth and Norwich will be dualled.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has until June 22 to decide whether to allow dualling between North Burlingham and Blofield.

It was back in 2014 that the government said £300m was available for six schemes along the A47.

Graham Plant, Councillor, at the grand reopening of the Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake, Great Y

Graham Plant, borough and county councillor. - Credit: Archant

Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council deputy leader, has been among those critical of National Highways for the slow pace of progress at getting those schemes started.

A series of public hearings have taken place in recent months to help the Planning Inspectorate decide whether or not to recommend the North Burlingham to Blofield scheme should go ahead.

If Mr Shapps says it should, it would see the existing single-lane section replaced with a new 1.6-mile dual carriageway, 70m south of the existing road.

Improvements would also be made to the Yarmouth Road junction, closing the right turn and adding a dedicated lane to join the A47, while a new bridge would be added over the new dual carriageway at Blofield.

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But, closer to Yarmouth, another of the six schemes is to revamp two of the town's roundabouts.

The Vauxhall Roundabout on the Acle New Road in Great Yarmouth.

The Vauxhall Roundabout. - Credit: James Bass

Plans for Vauxhall and Harfrey's roundabouts on the A47 at Great Yarmouth were unveiled in November.

Plans for Vauxhall and the Gapton roundabouts were originally put forward in 2017, but were put on ice because the Third River Crossing was given the go-ahead.

That led to new proposals, which would cost up to £50m, with the Third River Crossing impact meaning changes are now proposed for Harfrey's roundabout, rather than the Gapton one.

National Highways has been carrying out surveys in the areas near the roundabouts, including ecological, noise and landscape surveys to help further refine designs.

However, the elephant in the room remains the Acle Straight.

Traffic on the A47 Acle Straight, near Great Yarmouth

Traffic on the A47 Acle Straight, near Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Denise Bradley

For decades, there have been calls to dual that stretch of the A47.

A project has seen rare snails moved from the dykes along the road to see if they can thrive elsewhere. That five-year study will not end until 2023.

In the meantime, the government has yet to commit to including the Acle Straight among potential projects.