Preferred route for NDR Western Link will be decided within two months
- Credit: Archant
A decision on a preferred route for the mooted Western Link, to connect the Northern Distributor Road to the A47 to the west of Norwich, will be made within two months.
Conservative-run Norfolk County Council made the creation of a link, to connect the road now known as the Broadland Northway, to the A47 to the west of the city a priority.
That £205m road currently ends at the A1067.
The council had consulted over four options, ranging in cost from £61m to £161m. Some options require a viaduct over the Wensum Valley, while the least expensive of the options would see upgrades to the B1535.
A report, which went to county councillors in March, indicated that the £161m option D, which includes two viaducts, was the option most favoured in the consultation, which was participated in by more than 1,900 people.
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But County Hall officers have continued their analysis, which includes: looking at the results from ecological surveys and environmental information; the routes' effectiveness at improving traffic issues in the area and the value for money of the schemes.
And they will recommend a preferred route to councillors on the county council's cabinet in July, at which councillors will vote on which route they want to take forward.
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Even then, the scheme would still need to secure not only permission, but also funding.
The Western Link has won the backing from business leaders, including the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, a number of councils and MPs.
Supporters say it would improve traffic flow, prevent rat-running in areas to the west of Norwich, support potential housing and help to grow jobs.
In February, Norfolk's seven Conservative MPs wrote to transport secretary Chris Grayling urging him to consider funding for the Western Link.
However the road also has its critics. The Norfolk Wildlife Trust said, without a "significant commitment" to mitigation and creating new habitats, it would be objecting to all routes.
The Green Party are also in opposition, while Norwich South MP Clive Lewis is opposing all four routes.
The council has said it is "committed" to minimising potential adverse impacts from any road.