Village roads used as Norfolk A47 rat runs

Emma KnightsTraffic problems caused by people using village roads as rat runs to avoid tailbacks on the A47 have been highlighted at a public meeting.Emma Knights

Traffic problems caused by people using village roads as rat runs to avoid tailbacks on the A47 have been highlighted at a public meeting.

About 80 people attended the meeting at Honingham village hall, near Dereham, on Thursday night including representatives of Honingham, East Tuddenham, Hockering, Marlingford and Colton, and Weston Longville Parish Councils, the Highways Agency and Norfolk County Council.

Brian Winchester, chairman of Honingham Parish Council which organised the event, said the main thrust of the meeting centred on problems with people using the roads in and around Honingham and East Tuddenham as a rat run during the morning rush hour to avoid congestion on the A47 caused by the Honingham roundabout that was built last year because the junction had become a notorious blackspot.

Norwich bound drivers have been trying to beat the tailbacks on the A47 by turning right at Berry's Lane and using back roads to gain right of way on the roundabout.

Mr Winchester said people also spoke of how the sheer weight of traffic on the A47 was also causing problems for other nearby villages because it was effectively blocking the entrances onto the A47.

As previously reported the Highways Agency wants to install part-time traffic lights on the roundabout to ease peak-time traffic congestion.

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But Mr Winchester said: 'The view of just about everybody was that the traffic lights won't work because the traffic does not just back up from that roundabout, it also backs up from the Easton roundabout too.'

He said there were fears that if traffic lights were installed rat running could spread to Colton with drivers going through the village to avoid the Honingham roundabout altogether.

'The overall view of people from the villages was that the section of the A47 between Easton and North Tuddenham should be dualled,' he said.

Many people at the meeting wanted there to be a trial run of using traffic lights at Honingham roundabout, and also a trial in which Norwich-bound A47 traffic was banned from turning right onto Berry's Lane and nearby Church Lane, Mr Winchester said.

He added: 'I was very pleased with the turn-out for the meeting. I was pleased that the authorities took the time to attend the meeting and I hope that the views of the ordinary public will be taken on board and acted upon as soon as possible to alleviate our traffic problems.'

Following the meeting a Highways Agency spokesman reiterated a previous statement which said the authority was committed to finding a solution to the traffic issues caused by the Honingham roundabout.

'We have undertaken traffic surveys, which have been used to model potential solutions,' he said.

'Proposals to signalise the roundabout are now being developed, which will help alleviate some of the rat-running and enable traffic to keep flowing round the roundabout now and into the future as traffic volumes increase.

'We plan to undertaken detailed design in the next financial year 2010/11 for construction in early 2011/12, subject to funding.'