Tell us your views: Will �920,000 Grapes Hill bus lane improve public transport in Norwich?

Roadworks to add a �920,000 bus lane into a busy city street are expected to start next April.

Norwich city and Norfolk county councillors unanimously backed proposals to widen Grapes Hill, in Norwich, today in an attempt to help buses travel faster southbound toward the Chapel Field Road roundabout.

Two lanes for general traffic will be retained but these will be narrowed in width from 3.75 metres to three metres to allow the bus lane to be added.

Mervyn Scutter, Norwich Eaton county councillor, told today's Norwich Highways Agency committee meeting: 'I am still a little bit concerned about the lane widths. I know that's addressed a few times in the report but I remain a bit concerned.

'If it goes ahead, time will tell whether I am right or not. I hope I'm not.'

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It is planned taxis and cycles will be allowed to use the new southbound lane, which will operate all day, every day.

The government-funded project also aims to direct cyclists into a new route parallel to Grapes Hill from the St Benedicts Street junction into Wellington Lane.

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Bus operators had warned the three-metre bus lane could be too narrow, and tweaks to the plans have ensured it will now be 3.25m in width.

Noise and pollution concerns were also raised during a public consultation, but the councils insist there will be no traffic increase and air quality should improve as buses will not be stuck in queues.

Questions were also asked at today's highways agency committee about why the bus lane will be in operation 24 hours a day.

Council officers say the aim is to encourage people to obey the new lane system and not to cause confusion by allowing access at outside of peak hours.

Bert Bremner, city council cabinet member for transportation, said: 'In this case I think it's right as there will still be two lanes [for general vehicles] as before.

'My experience of Earlham Road, where the bus lane stops at 9.30am, is people don't read the sign and when I cruise up alongside them, they seem to get quite irritated with me. The bus lane might as well be made 24-hour as the rest of the population, apart from me, treat it as that.'

What do you think? Will the bus lane improve public transport in the city? Leave your comments below this story.

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