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Controversial £650,000 Norwich ring road shake-up gets go-ahead, despite safety fears

PUBLISHED: 17:04 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:04 21 March 2019

Rush hour traffic in Colman Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Rush hour traffic in Colman Road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Controversial changes, which council bosses say will cut congestion for traffic on Norwich's ring road, have been agreed, despite concerns it could endanger schoolchildren.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats.Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

City and county councillors today (Thursday, March 21) gave the go-ahead to £650,000 worth of changes to the ring road between South Park Avenue and the A11 Newmarket Road.

Council officers say the move will prevent congestion from building up at the Newmarket Road/Daniels Road roundabout.

Changes will include replacing signalled crossings over Colman Road near South Park Avenue, Mornington Road and close to Waldeck Road on Mile End Road with staggered crossings.

The timing of the signals will also be tweaked, which would increase the time for traffic turning into side streets.

Adi Pope, school crossing patrol officer. Pic: Dan Grimmer.Adi Pope, school crossing patrol officer. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

That will affect First’s number 25 bus service between the University of East Anglia and the city centre, although officers say modelling showed overall journey times on the ring road would improve.

But governors at Colman Junior School, in South Park Avenue, had objected, saying they had “grave concerns” the staggered junction would make children more vulnerable.

And Adi Pope, school crossing patrol officer at Colman Infant School and Colman Junior School, had said it would make it more difficult for him to ensure youngsters got across safely.

At a meeting of Norwich highways agency committee, Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton, said he could not support the scheme, saying he feared it could make matters worse.

He said: “If you are not careful, it could exacerbate the problem. It could increase capacity and not have the desired effect of dealing with the congestion at Daniels Road roundabout.

“I have concerns over the staggered junctions and the safety of children and vulnerable people. They are likely to be penned in the middle of the road.”

But councillors agreed to the scheme after Labour councillor Ian Stutely tabled extra recommendations that the potential impact on the school crossing patrol be noted and that Transport for Norwich should explore whether extra resources might be needed for that patrol.

Work on the scheme is due to start in spring next year.

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