'Excessive congestion' on A11 triggers demand for traffic light changes
PUBLISHED: 13:29 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:54 19 September 2019
Traffic signals on the A11 are causing "excessive congestion", frustrated county councillors have said as they called on highways bosses to sort out the problem.
Five years ago, more than £150m was spent to dual the remaining single-carriageway sections of the road.
But concerns have been raised that the decision taken to install traffic signals at the Barton Mills Fiveways roundabout is causing delays.
Officers from Norfolk County Council and their counterparts in Suffolk have both raised concerns about the traffic lights with Highways England, which manages and maintains the A11.
The lights were put in place in November last year. Highways England says its own monitoring showed there was sporadic congestion and the lights were recalibrated to help deal with that in June.
But Bev Spratt, Conservative county councillor for West Depwade, said the lights were leading to "excessive congestion" which was having a "detrimental effect on traffic travelling south out of Norfolk."
Mr Spratt told a meeting of the county council's infrastructure and development committee: "We want all of the tourists we can to come to Norfolk.
"We don't want tourists held up at the Mildenhall roundabout when they are trying to come to Cromer and Great Yarmouth.
"I'd like to see a delegation go to Highways England to really tell them what we want to happen."
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Committee chairman Barry Stone said: "Clearly, it is important to Norfolk that traffic on the A11 runs smoothly to benefit our residents, businesses and visitors.
"Although we were successful in our campaign to get the A11 fully dualled, the campaign was not able to persuade government of the case to provide grade separation at the A11 Mildenhall 'Fiveways' junction."
Tom McCabe, director of community and environmental services at County Hall, said: "On the A11, we have got the Mildenhall and Thetford roundabouts, which all need moving into the next stage.
"We should be looking at grade separation at both of those."
Grade separation is where junctions are designed so that some or all of the traffic does not have to be controlled by lights.
A grade separated roundabout has at least one approach coming at the road from a different level.
However, it can be costly, with a need for ramps, connector roads or bridges.
A Highways England spokesman said: "The A11 is a vital route for East Anglia, linking Norfolk to Suffolk and Cambridge.
"The Barton Mills junction is a busy roundabout and we installed traffic lights on it last year after listening to local people, and to balance the needs of drivers on the A11 and those on the smaller roads using the roundabout.
"The traffic lights have improved traffic flows and made the junction safer.
"We are keeping the timings of the traffic lights under review to ensure that the junction is optimised for all the drivers who depend on it every day."