Major improvement works to Fullers Hill roundabout in Great Yarmouth could lead to months of delays
- Credit: Archant
A £3.5m scheme to improve journeys in and out of Great Yarmouth is set to begin in just over a week.
There will be disruption at the Fullers Hill roundabout for 14 weeks from Monday, September 18.
A recently put up sign near the junction warns drivers to expect long delays.
The roundabout works are the first in series planned for the area known as the gateway to the town to enhance both its appearance and journeys into the town.
Running up until summer 2018, work will also be carried out to improve the forecourt at Great Yarmouth's train station and also the route to the Market Place via The Conge.
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A right hand turn will also be added to the route out of the station and the ASDA supermarket, easing pressure on the Vauxhall roundabout, as currently cars have to turn left and use the roundabout to head back towards the town centre and Caister.
At Fullers Hill Norfolk County Council is spending £650,000 to create an extra lane on the roundabout by reducing the size of the central island. An additional right-hand turn lane will also be put in on the North Quay approach from the north where often queues are particularly bad due to the volume of traffic wanting to get onto the A47.
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The work is due to take around 14 weeks to complete and is scheduled to finish by Friday, December 22.
During the vast majority of the works, all roads approaching the roundabout will remain open however they will be down to one lane so people travelling through the area should plan for longer journey times than usual, particularly at peak times.
When completed, people can expect fewer delays in the area and shorter, more reliable journey times. It's hoped that air quality may also benefit, with a reduction in queueing stationary traffic giving off emissions.
Chairman of the transport committee at Norfolk County Council Martin Wilby said: 'The current Fuller's Hill roundabout simply wasn't designed to cope with the amount of traffic that is using it today. Adding an extra lane to the roundabout and creating an additional approach lane for A47-bound traffic should make a big difference and help keep things moving, which in turn will benefit local people's day-to-day lives and the town's economy.'
Drivers heading for Yarmouth town centre or the seafront from the direction of Caister may wish to avoid the roundabout altogether by turning left to stay on Caister Road which then becomes Northgate Street. A sign will be put up before this turning warning drivers that there could be delays ahead.
Efforts are being made to minimise the impact of the work on the town, with the peak summer tourist season completely avoided. If at all possible, the County Council will suspend the work and remove the lane closures for the town's Christmas lights switch-on and Christmas Fair on the weekend of 24 to 26 November.
There will be a need to close the roundabout and all approach roads overnight for five nights, these closures will take place towards the end of the works and are necessary to allow the roads to be resurfaced and repainted safely. This work has been scheduled to be carried out overnight specifically to reduce the impact on people who use these routes. No other complete road closures are planned.
Mick Castle, county councillor for the Yarmouth North and Central Division, which includes Fuller's Hill roundabout, said: 'These are improvements that need to be done and I think a lot of people in Yarmouth will agree with me on that. I know they will cause some inevitable short-term disruption but I'm pleased they're being done outside of the main tourist season, and the long-term benefits should make the roadworks very much worth their while.'
The Fuller's Hill roundabout improvement work is part of a multimillion pound programme to transform the Great Yarmouth area over the coming years to make it easier for people to get to and around and make it a more attractive place to live, work and visit. This will help attract future investment and economic development to the area, creating skilled jobs, business opportunities and giving local people a better quality of life.
Norfolk County Council has been allocated £9 million by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to make road and transport improvements in the town. Along with the Fuller's Hill roundabout works, schemes planned in the near future include improvements to North Quay, The Conge and the rail station forecourt.
Chris Starkie, Managing Director of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'These improvements will play a big part in easing congestion for local people, businesses and visitors to the town. When taken as part of the wider £9m project they will have huge benefits for the economy of Great Yarmouth, the surrounding area and our region as a whole.'
The County Council also intends to build a third bridge across the River Yare in the town, which will link the newly-renumbered A47 (formerly A12) at the Harfreys roundabout in the Southtown area of Yarmouth to the port and the Enterprise Zones on the other side of the river.
The third river crossing will help to reduce traffic congestion, particularly on the two existing bridges, and help attract new businesses to the area by improving journey times and reliability from the port area and town to the A47 and wider trunk road network. A public consultation on the design of the bridge is currently ongoing, for more details visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/3rc.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council, under its Town Centre Masterplan, is seeking to work with partners to regenerate and enhance the town centre as a destination where more people choose to live, work, invest and spend their leisure time and money. In improving traffic flow in and around the town centre, the highways works support the core aim of the Masterplan, which is to build confidence, highlight assets and opportunities and secure investment, by setting out a clear, coherent and compelling vision.
In addition, Highways England is committed to funding and carrying out improvements to Vauxhall roundabout and Gapton Hall roundabout by 2020 as part of wider upgrades to the A47.
Cllr Graham Plant, Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader, said: 'We all accept Fuller's Hill is both a gateway junction and a congestion blackspot, especially during the peak season, so increasing its capacity will help towards improving quality of life and support the economy.
'It's also great to see some major highways improvements taking place already, as we look forward to the improved pedestrian and cycle route between the railway station and Market Place, Highways England's improvements to the Gapton Hall and Vauxhall roundabouts, and we continue to lobby hard for funding for the Third River Crossing.'
Signs are already in place near Fuller's Hill roundabout about the upcoming works and likely delays. Further information on this scheme and those mentioned above will be available shortly on the Norfolk County Council website at www.norfolk.gov.uk/tfgy.