Lowestoft relief road plan is questioned
- Credit: James Bass
Plans for a new road to relieve long-standing traffic problems in north Lowestoft came under fire this week, amid claims that it could turn surrounding villages into dangerous 'rat runs'.
After years of delays, work finally looks set to start on phase five of the Lowestoft Northern Spine Road after the government announced that it had approved a £4.63m funding boost.
If it wins final planning approval from Suffolk County Council, the scheme would see the single-carriageway road built between the Millennium Way-Bentley Drive roundabout and the Corton Long Lane junction on the A12 – diverting through-traffic away from Yarmouth Road and parts of Oulton.
But people in parishes north of Lowestoft fear the new road will add to existing congestion problems and drive more traffic through their villages, as well as creating a potential 'accident blackspot'.
The objectors have launched a petition opposing the scheme, claiming that plans to install traffic lights near Corton Long Lane – as opposed to a roundabout – risk causing another traffic bottleneck.
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Stephen Pavey, chairman of Corton Parish Council, said his council and Blundeston Parish Council had written letters of objection to the county's highways department and vowed to 'fight this all the way'.
'The improvements in their current form are not accepted or wanted by Corton residents,' he added.
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Mr Pavey, 58, a civil servant, said he believed the original plans for the road included a roundabout.
'The current proposal is to have traffic lights at the end of the A12 dual-carriageway, at the junction of Corton Long Lane. Traffic lights are not designed to aid the flow of traffic, but control it,' he said.
'By placing traffic lights at this location, the only outcome can be long delays and possibly an accident blackspot due to cars coming off the dual carriageway to find standing traffic in front of them.
'The volume of traffic is bad enough now, let alone with traffic lights, and because of the hold-ups, people will find a different way to go and will use the coast road through Corton village, or through Lound, Blundeston and Somerleyton. These villages will become rat runs.'
Last Friday, the government gave the green light to the county council's bid for £4.635m of capital funding to complete phase five of the Northern Spine Road. The scheme, which would also include a shared walk and cycleway, aims to remove through traffic and congestion from Bentley Drive and parts of the A12.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous welcomed the funding as 'very good' news, adding: 'The Northern Spine Road is an important component part of the Lowestoft Transport Prospectus that will improve access to and around the town and will help bring jobs and business to the area.'
Waveney District Council leader, Colin Law, said: 'We wholeheartedly support this scheme, which should ease the free flow of traffic into and out of the town centre from the south. It is a momentous coup for the town.'
Graham Newman, the county council's portfolio holder for roads and transport, said: 'This is a much-needed new section of road in Lowestoft. Not only will it remove traffic from the residential area of Bentley Drive, it will also alleviate congestion of the A12 and other smaller roads in the area.'
A planning application for the road has already been submitted by the county council and will be considered by its own development control committee next month.
Responding to Mr Pavey's concerns, a county council spokesman said: 'The planned traffic lights are an excellent form of junction control, and work just as effectively as a roundabout whilst being more cost effective. Detailed traffic planning modelling has been undertaken and has shown that the current design will cope well during periods of increased traffic.'
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