New plans for multi-million pound revamp of Thickthorn roundabout revealed
New plans for the multi-million pound revamp of the Thickthorn roundabout have been unveiled – with highways chiefs saying it could shave up to six minutes off journey times for more than 50,000 drivers.
Highways England announced its preferred option for upgrading the Thickthorn interchange two years ago, as part of a £300m series of upgrades along the A47 corridor.
But they acknowledged they needed to find a solution to deal with fears about potential rat-running in Cantley Lane South – and have now tweaked their designs for a final stint of consultation before plans are lodged.
The changes to the junction, which could cost £50m, includes:
– Two one-way link roads for drivers heading from the northbound A11 to the eastbound A47, and from the westbound A47 to the southbound A11. That will see three underpasses built under the A11, the A47 westbound and the A47 eastbound and will mean traffic can completely bypass Thickthorn roundabout.
– The existing roundabout will be upgraded to incorporate a fourth lane on the southern section. Traffic signals will be installed at the junction with the B1172.
– Junctions from Cantley Lane to the A11 and A47 will be closed, with a new link road connecting Cantley Lane South to the B1172 Norwich Road via two bridges.
– A new footbridge over the A47 for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, replacing the existing footbridge which will be demolished.
Bosses at Highways England says, depending on the planning process, work could start in 2021 and the changes could be complete by 2023.
And they say it would improve journey times by up to six minutes for the 53,000 drivers who use the roundabout daily, while also making the junction safer by reducing the number of accidents there.
Consultation is under way and runs until Thursday, July 11.
Peter Havlicek, Highways England programme lead for the A47, said: “We know that there is a lot of support for this improvement, and we hope users participate fully in this next stage consultation too to help refine our plans for this investment and deliver the best road.
“People can take part in numerous ways, and we’ll be hosting several events for them to come and talk with the team to share their thoughts, concerns and feedback.”
Local councillors have also urged people to make sure their voices are heard during the consultation.
Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure welcomed the start of the consultation.
And Phil Hardy, South Norfolk district councillor for Hethersett and a member of the A47 Alliance, urged people to attend the exhibitions.
He said: “This is an opportunity for local people not only to discover the work planned but to have their say and help shape the plans.
“I encourage as many people to attend as possible to understand what is planned and share their ideas as well as any issues and concerns by the consultation deadline of July 11.”
How to have your say
People can take part in the consultation at www.highwaysengland.co.uk/A47Thickthorn, by writing to Freepost A47 Thickthorn Junction, or by completing one of the forms available at the public events and collection points.
There will be four public exhibitions: - Hethersett Village Hall, Back Lane, Hethersett on Monday, June 10, from 1pm to 8pm;
– Ketteringham Village Hall, High Street, Ketteringham on Thursday, June 13, from 1pm to 8pm;
– The Willow Centre, 1 – 13 Willowcroft Way, Cringleford on Friday, June 14, from 1pm to 8pm;
– 47 Giles Street, Norwich on Saturday, June 15, from 11am to 5pm.
What happens next?
Following the consultation, Highways England hope to get the plans lodged later this year. Because the work is designated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, a development consent order will be sought.
A planning inspector will hold a public examination before making a recommendation to the transport secretary as to whether the scheme should go ahead.
The work could then start in 2021 and could be completed by 2023.
It is part of £300m of work on the A47.
Three sections of the 115-mile stretch of the A47 between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth will be upgraded to dual carriageway. Norfolk sections will be upgraded between Blofield and North Burlingham and from North Tuddenham to Easton, while in Peterborough the A47 between Wansford and Sutton will also be dualled.
There will be further junction improvements at the A141 roundabout in Guyhirn and in Great Yarmouth.
The EDP, Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Chamber of Commerce are, through the Just Dual It! campaign, calling on ministers to commit to a full dualling of the road.