Notes from The Borough Council

Highways Issues

It is clear that there are a number of issues which affect the A134. I thought I’d set these out. There may be others of which I am not aware and if there is anything which concerns you please get in touch with me.
Methwold road and Didlington Road junctions on A134.
There is a long history of accidents at these two points, where the” splays “ are restricted. A visibility splay is an essential safety feature of a junction. This is the distance a driver needs to be able to see left and right along the trunk road when waiting to turn out of a junction or access onto the trunk road. In both cases it is difficult to improve these to the minimum that would be necessary for a modern construction. It is also the case that both junctions have particular problems. At Methwold Road, when coming out of Northwold, there is poor visibility to the right where traffic comes a speed down the hill, due to the adjacent property and to the left where high speed traffic comes around a corner. That said, I think the exit from the Methwold side is more difficult, particularly with regards to traffic from the South. There is excellent documentation on the history of this junction, with an average of three serious incidents a year requiring the attendance of emergency vehicles. As recently as September there was a fatality ( a cyclist), and there are on average significant crashes there on a monthly basis. It does seem that we as inhabitants need to continually lobby Norfolk Highways as this dangerous site is clearly not a priority.
The Didlington Road Junction is less well documented and here the danger is vehicles approaching from the North, sweeping round the corner. There is a potential increase in problems here as Wellington Lodge has planning permission for a 70,000 Ton capacity biodigester which could mean an additional 5,000 HGV movements at this junction. The original plan was for this to service a local agricultural estate, so I am not sure where these vehicles would come from. It might be that some of these need to cross the A134. Additionally, there will be some additional use as the site has got planning permission for a Wedding Venue it was stipulated at the Planning Panel hearing that vehicles leaving this venue will be directed to the left on exit (thank you councillor Storey for your support on that). There may be an additional problem if the applied for license for the music venue at Doves Barn Meadow proceeds…indications are that traffic control was very poor at their pilot event, so I hope if this proceeds the organisers will be required to introduce active management for people leaving the site.
To my mind the minimum which must be done is to greatly improve signage on the minor roads approaching these junctions (as has been privately done at the Methwold Road Junction, well done!). Personally, the severity of the danger is such that I would like to see flashing warning lights to alert motorists, particularly at the Methwold junction. I think Highways would resist additional speed reductions to the A134, it being a “strategic road”. These have been introduced at Whittington Hill remains a dangerous stretch of road ( I think I am right in saying one vehicle was clocked at 100mph ). Early indications are that they are successful. We should remember that to be successful speed limits do need to be enforced, but I for one would not be happy with speed cameras on this road, although signs suggesting their use would be helpful.
The Mundford to Methwold by way
The second bone of contention is the continued use of the byroad from Mundford to Methwold by HGV’s. If anything, this has increased recently, and will expand geometrically if the bio digester referred to above becomes operational. I have been almost forced off the road on a number of occasions. This network of roads is very poorly finished with frequent potholes and lumps and bumps and really should be access only for HGV’s. Additionally, as these roads do not seem to be gritted and because they alternate between forested and open there are variable patches of icy roads in winter. This may be good for local vehicle recovery and panel beating services, but for the rest of us it is a very real danger. It does surprise me that this is very much a local’s short cut so you would think that regular users are aware of these dangers. Many of the cars which I see off road in winter are small, boy racer type cars and its not unusual after a frost to see two or three such incidents as these roads are not gritted.
Speed Limit Iceni Academy
Finally, there is often concern expressed at the 40mph speed limit outside the Iceni Academy. The view of Highways here is that the large numbers of parked cars themselves cause vehicles to slow down to below the limit. I’d still say a 30mph limit is appropriate, at least in term time for this site.
Whilst I am looking at Highway related issues it also seems to me as the number of electric vehicles increase then the need for these to be recharged when parked in the street grows for those without off-road parking. So I would like to see the provision of cable tracks so that cables are not laid over the pavement, with the inevitable result of accidents for pedestrians and discussions as to public liability. In Methwold, there are too many signs at the junction with the main road which restrict visibility and Highway enforcement teams need to address this too.
These are to my mind the three main issues – A134 junctions, by road HGV use and Speed limits outside Iceni. If you have other matters you would like taken to Highways please contact me.
Finally, as Borough Councillor I do not directly have any influence over Highways, but they do take into account public sentiment on road safety issues. That said, please take a note of the contact emails. The most relevant is the Highways officer for West Norfolk, Andrew Wallace, who is sympathetic and knowledgeable. His email is Andrew.wallace@norfolk.gov.uk, and if you copy me in then I can get involved! If you really want to get to the top, the relevant officer is Tom.mccabe@norfolk.gov.uk !

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