Revealed: Footpath over River Yare in Norwich could be transformed into new bus route between UEA and hospital
A footpath over the River Yare could be transformed into a bus route under new proposals revealed today.
The Cross Valley link would connect the University of East Anglia (UEA) with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) on Colney Lane.
But it would require an existing footpath and bridge over the River Yare to be adapted for bus use.
The aim of the route, which was revealed at the Norfolk Bus Forum this morning, is to enable buses travelling from the city centre to reach the hospital quicker.
At present, it can take drivers around 15 minutes to get from the UEA to the NNUH due to congestion on the roads.
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But Steve Royal, operations manager at Konectbus, said the journey should take no more than five.
The new route would go from the Norfolk Road and Chancellors Drive roundabout at the UEA and to Colney Lane in the west of Norwich.
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A local councillor and a countryside charity has already raised concern about the scheme.
Jeremy Wiggin, Transport for Norwich manager at Norfolk County Council, said the idea was first mooted in 2001.
He said a transport review for the city had led to the proposals being revisited.
'There is a lot of emphasis on supporting growth, so now is a good time to look at it again and see what can be achieved,' he said.
'But it is quite sensitive because it goes across the river and at the moment it is only a walking and cycling route.'
He said funding for the scheme was 'an issue' and it would require the existing bridge to be strengthened.
Dawn Dewar, transport co-ordinator for the UEA, which owns the land, said the route would be around 1.2km (0.8 miles) long.
'We are not talking about a dual carriageway, we would be keeping it [the new route] as close as to what is there already,' she said.
'We will support any measures that will help staff and students get to the university without the use of a private car.'
She said the proposals were not linked to Norwich Rugby Club's plans to relocate to the UEA.
Simon Wardale, facilities manager at the NNUH, said: 'We would support it if it improves access for patients, visitors and staff to the hospital.'
Concerns about the route
The proposals have been met with concern from a local councillor and a countryside charity.
Judith Lubbock, Norwich city councillor for Eaton, said she had 'reservations' about the route.
'The valley has already been eroded with the development on Bluebell Road and now the Norwich Rugby Club,' she said.
'I would rather see alternative options investigated.'
A spokesperson for the Norfolk branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England said they were unable to give a 'definitive comment' until detailed plans had been seen.
But the spokesperson said: 'Anything that negatively affects the [Yare] valley, we would not be very happy about.
'The reason this has been refused so many times is for this reason.
'Generally speaking, we are in favour of public transport, but in this case, we would encourage people to walk or cycle.'