Major transport overhaul of King's Lynn on the cards
© Archant Norfolk 2013
Commuters in King's Lynn could see a complete overhaul of their town as the process to improve every aspect of transport begins.
Options being considered include a major redesign of the town centre gyratory, improvements to Southgates, Jubilee and Hardwick roundabouts, increased car parking charge and plans for a park and ride system and a host of cycle lanes.
A new exit onto the A149 for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, dualling the A149 up to Knights Hill, as well as creating new link roads could be on the cards.
The King's Lynn Transport Study and Strategy is being put together by West Norfolk Council and Norfolk County Council with the aim of improving congestion as well as air quality and protecting historic areas.
While a final strategy document is yet to be finalised, the original long-list of 114 options has been whittled down already.
Those that have not made the cut so far, because they would take too long, cost too much or cannot be achieved within the councils' remit, include a bridge for vehicles over the river Great Ouse, a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Great Ouse, a bike hire scheme, expansion of railway station car parking and a North Wootton to Edward Benefer Way link road.
But options being recommended for inclusion at this stage are:
Making Harding's Way a bus-only route
Providing earlier and evening weekday buses, as well as Sunday and Bank Holiday service
Multi-operator ticketing including buses and rail services
Creating access for buses to the bus station via Albion Street
A redesign of the town centre gyratory - including investigating the potential for bus-only lanes through Railway Road, London Road, Blackfriars Road.
Bus priority at traffic signals using bus detector equipment
Address traffic signal outbound delays at Hansa Road, Hardwick Road junction
Park and ride scheme for King's Lynn
Improving the frequency of train services
Introducing a cycle route around the historic quayside, as well more cycle dismount signs and secure cycle parking
Improving the following areas for pedestrians and cyclists - the Port, Queen Mary Road, Fairstead, Hardwick, Tennyson Avenue, King George Avenue, The Walks, Gaywood Road, Extons Road
Review pedestrian crossing on London Road, South Lynn to Hardwick Road
Review traffic signals timings and signals and junctions at North Street, retail park at Hardwick, Estuary Road, Hamburg Way, Gaywood Clock/Queen Mary Road junction, Loke Road/ John Kennedy Road, Millfleet/London Road, Estuary Road/Edward Benefer Way, Low Road/Castle Rising Road/Wootton Road/Grimston Road
Opening Harding's Way to additional traffic at specified times to alleviate congestion on London Road.
An extra exit onto A149 for exiting traffic from the hospital
Improvements to Southgates, Hardwick, Jubilee and QEH roundabouts
Potential for a link between Wisbech Road and Nar Ouse Way
New right turn lane for A1076 into Queensway
Queen Mary Road link to Fairstead
Widening of Winston Churchill Drive
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Dualling of the A149 up to Knights Hill
West Winch housing access road to provide relief to the A10
New car parking strategy to increase the cost of town centre car parking
One area of high congestion at peak times is the Hardwick roundabout/interchange. It is suggested that the roundabout should be made larger to allow for more vehicles, in conjunction with creating a "relief road" to link the A10 and A47, for which the county council is already applying for funding for from the Department for Transport.
Similar improvements are suggested for the Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Southgates roundabouts.
A number of traffic lights across the town could have timings changed to help with traffic flow, most notably at Hardwick, Estuary Road, Hamburg Way and Gaywood.
A large section of the report has been devoted to the infrastructure and use of bus services.
Within the circular layout of the centre's roads it has been suggested that a number of bus-only routes, including bus lanes, be created to cut journey times.
Roads highlighted are Harding's Way, bus station access via Albion Street, Railway Road, London Road and Blackfriars Road.
The report, by consultants WSP, said: "Bus journey time reliability is severely impacted on by the delays encountered on the highway network through the centre of the town Time efficient access to and from the bus station is constrained by the one-way nature of the gyratory system that provides the point of access for all bus services in King's Lynn."
WSP also found that surrounding villages found bus services "unattractive" due to limited times and routes.
It suggests providing earlier and evening weekday buses, as well as Sunday and Bank Holiday services with the possibility of new operators.
Adding to this issue the report found that the price of bus tickets are not competitive with the price of parking in the town centre leaving more commuters to favour driving.
But the county council said it does not have final say on commercial bus services but will work with them to try to make improvements.
Journeys by train account for one per cent of work commuters in King's Lynn. The report raised the frequency of departures as an issue for this with hopes to double the frequency to half-hourly to Ely.
It says London and Cambridge links must be improved, with plans to double the amount of carriages used on these services.
Walking and cycling
Cycling features heavily in the report, with the possibility of creating multiple cycle lanes and secure parking around the town.
The Quayside has been pinpointed as a location to create a cycling route as well as improvements for both pedestrians and cyclists in Queen Mary Road, Fairstead and Hardwick.
A host of roads have been highlighted for improvements with the hope of creating a more fluid route through the town.
Improvements will not be easy
Councillor Richard Blunt, cabinet member for development at West Norfolk Council, said the these improvements will not be easy.
He said: "We are working jointly with transport authority Norfolk County Council to identify ways of improving the flow of traffic into and out of town.
"In doing this we also have to consider the knock-on impacts of emissions. The King's Lynn Transport Strategy is very much a work in progress. This latest report is stage two of the project, in which over 50 options have been identified.
"The challenge ahead is to reduce these down, and ensure that they are complementary to each other and not contradictory.
"It is a challenging task and there will no doubt be more consultation before the stage three final report is completed later this year."