A celebration this week has marked the start of the construction of the new Hempnall roundabout which gets underway on Monday, 20 May.
As the prep work draws to a close the diggers have now moved in ready for the main building work which begins next week. The roundabout is set to open by the end of the year.
Over the past three months a number of preliminary works have been completed including diversions of electricity poles, water pipes and phone lines to clear the way for the new roundabout.
Cllr Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, Infrastructure & Transport, said: “We’ve worked very hard to push this scheme forward which will help to unlock economic growth and development in the area, improve access from side roads onto the A140, and crucially, make this junction safer.
“By building the roundabout to the west of the existing crossroads we can minimise the traffic disruption. We’re grateful for people’s patience while work is underway as I’m sure the short-term pain will be well worth the long-term gain.”
Cllr Alison Thomas, County Councillor for the Long Stratton division, which includes the Hempnall crossroads, said: “The case for an improvement at this junction was clear as the accident record sadly speaks for itself.
“I’m delighted to see this project finally happening as it has been one of my main priorities during my time as a Councillor. This vital roundabout will make this section of road safer and make it easier for drivers to access the A140 at this point without the need to detour for safety purposes. This will cut the daily delays that people have had to face, particularly on the B1527 to Hempnall.”
In October 2017 the Department for Transport awarded Norfolk County Council £3.05 million towards the £4.57 million cost of the scheme, this includes a £650,770 investment from the LEP via the Government’s Growth Deal programme. The remainder of the funding will come from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Norfolk County Council.
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive at New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s good news that the work is now starting on the new roundabout, as safe and reliable roads are essential for all users. The A140 is an important transport artery for businesses in the area and those who are coming through so this should benefit the local economy.
“The LEP is also investing in this project to help facilitate the delivery of 1,800 homes and 9.5 acres of employment space at the nearby Norfolk Homes development in Long Stratton. Overall this is an important piece of infrastructure that will have a positive impact on people, business and productivity.”
Cllr John Fuller, Chair of the Greater Norwich Growth Board, said: “The changes to the Hempnall junction are very welcome and will offer significant benefits to residents and businesses, improving the safety and reliability of journeys on the A140.
“The new junction will form an integral part of the infrastructure needed to support the planned housing and employment growth in Long Stratton and the long-awaited Long Stratton bypass.”
The existing junction, known locally as the Hempnall crossroads, has a poor injury accident record, with eleven personal injury accidents in the last five years (latest available figures run up to the end of February 2019). These accidents resulted in 15 casualties, with one categorised as serious.
Two thirds of the injury accidents involved vehicles emerging from the side roads onto the A140, with the remainder being tail end collisions in traffic and single vehicle loss of control incidents. The roundabout will improve this section of the A140 that has seen a number of collisions over the years and sadly some recent fatalities.
Alistair McBeath, general manager, Tarmac Highways Services who are the main contractors, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Norfolk County Council to deliver this important scheme which will make local journeys safer and easier.”
Road users will see a temporary 30mph limit in place from Monday and some closures of side roads will be needed to allow work to safely take place.
An informal public consultation on the plan, that ran in March and April 2018, showed overwhelming support for the scheme.
Up-to-date information about the scheme is available on the County Council website.