Plans to deal with one of the worst congestion hotspots on the Leicester-Great Yarmouth A47 have been redrawn to avoid a scheduled monument and ancient woodland, as a result of locals’ complaints, two years after a formal consultation.
The short section is a notorious bottleneck due to being a 1.5-miles single-carriageway between the A1 and existing A47 dual carriageway to Peterborough. It also has three very busy junctions/access points that have resulted in accidents.
The preferred option for upgrading this stretch was announced in August 2017. A formal consultation was held in October 2018 and subject to Government approval, construction could start in 2023.
The proposal is one of six projects in a £300m package that Highways England is planning to improve the A47 between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth.
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, at the A11 Thickthorn roundabout for Norwich, and at Great Yarmouth junctions.
The changes to the Wansford plans will see more than a mile and a half of new two-lane dual carriageway running predominantly to the north of the existing road, some of which will remain as a local access road to further reduce traffic on the A47.
As a result of the result of the feedback received during the latest consultation, the new refined design sees the new dual carriageway running to the north of the existing A47 at the eastern end.
The new route continues to avoid the scheduled monument at Sacrewell Farm and will now also avoid the nearby ancient woodland.
The proposals see the eastern Wansford roundabout being enlarged, with a new lane to the south providing access to the petrol station and Sacrewell Farm.
At the western Wansford roundabout there will be an improved entry from the A1 northbound slip road alongside an improved exit for the A47 eastbound.
There will also be a new left turn lane between the A1 northbound slip road and the A47 eastbound, while a new bike crossing will prevent cyclists from needing to use these busy roundabouts.
Elsewhere on the project, there will be a new pedestrian and cycling route which will pass under the A47 close to the current junction at Sutton Heath Road; new passing places at Upton will be discussed with the local council; and a straight link road will be formed from the relocated Nene Way roundabout, which will connect into the existing Sutton Heath Road close to the Langley Bush Road junction.
Congestion will also be eased and safety improved, with several aspects of the existing road removed, including the bus stop and direct access to the A1 from the properties at Windgate Way, while Upton Road will no longer be accessed directly from the A47 and access at the existing Sutton Heath Road junction will be closed.
Highways England programme lead for the A47, Chris Griffin, said: “This stretch of road connects areas of growing economic activity around Peterborough, including linking the A47 to the A1.
“The current layout of the road can act as a bottleneck, resulting in congestion and slower journey times.
“Following our public statutory consultation in October 2018, we’ve taken into account feedback and refined our plans for this stretch of the A47, as it’s important that we get it right for road users and the affected communities.
“We’ve refined our proposals to address the common themes and concerns raised, whilst ensuring that the project solves the traffic problem, improves journey times and improves safety as key considerations.
“We have also carried out more ground investigations and updated the traffic surveys and air quality monitoring. In addition, we are continuing to carry out environmental and ecological surveys.”
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “The A47 is a key route for residents and businesses across the region – particularly between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth – so it’s great to see the latest plans for this major upgrade taking shape.
“Not only will these plans cut congestion, they will also make journeys quicker and safer for all road users – it’s yet another example of how this Government is working hard to level up transport infrastructure across the entire country.”
The statutory consultation showed almost three quarters of nearly 700 responses felt that road improvements were needed on this stretch of road, and that Highways England’s proposals would help reduce congestion and shorten journey times.
The next stage of the A47 Wansford to Sutton upgrade is for Highways England to seek formal permission to build the road.
Once submitted mid-2021, the Government will respond within 18 months, and, subject to it being approved, work on building the road will start by March 2023 .
For more information visit: www.highwaysengland.co.uk/projects/A47-wansford-to-sutton-dualling