Motorists in King’s Lynn face six months of disruption with a major roadworks project set to begin on the Saddlebow interchange.
A £3m project to repair both bridges over the A47 is due to start on Monday, October 23 and is not expected to be finished until the summer.
The bridges need to be strengthened after they were struck by an over-height vehicle. Both bridges, which carry the A148 over the dual carriageway, will be closed throughout the works and a lane of the A47 westbound will also be closed. Drivers will be diverted via the Pullover and Hardwick roundabouts. There will also be up to eight weekend closures of the A47 beneath the bridges and some overnight week closures.
The interchange and all four slip roads leading to and from the A47 are also being resurfaced. Engineering teams need to raise the bridges in order to dig out the current beams and replace them.
The bridge repairs are part of a wider £18m package of work to maintain the A47 in Norfolk, with around 70 schemes ranging from re-surfacing to new signs, street lights and road markings.
Highways England held a public information event at the Adrian Flux Arena on Monday to explain the proposed works and diversions to residents, businesses and motorists.
Aaron Benefer, who lives nearby, said he was worried when he heard about the work, but felt reassured by the event.
“I’m a little apprehensive and surprised. I’m just trying to work out the best way to get into town. After coming here, I’m feeling a lot better about it. It will probably add just a few minutes onto my journey.”
Nick Watson, of Watlington, who works in West Lynn, told YLP: “It’s going to have a huge impact for me. Not just going to and from work, but because throughout the day I rely on the route to pop home and let my dog out.
“I regularly go to racing at the arena too. When a big event is on it’s going to be confusing for those visiting the area and will add to the traffic.”
Highways England project manager Ajith Nair was on hand to answer questions at the event.
He said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do at Highways England, and this work we are doing here and elsewhere on the A47 will improve both safety and journey quality for drivers. We want to limit the impact that the work will have on people’s journeys.”
West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long said: “I understand that people may be concerned about possible delays but this work is essential.
“There may be short-term inconvenience, but in the long term, improvements to our roads benefit us all, local residents, businesses, and tourists.”
Drivers have been advised to plan their routes to avoid disruption during work on the A47 and Saddlebow interchange.
Diversions will be in place from October 23 as engineers repair damage to the bridges.
Both bridges and one lane of the A47 westbound will be closed for the duration of the work, set to last until next summer.
The A47 will be closed beneath the Saddlebow interchange for weekends, from 8pm on Fridays to 6am on Mondays and also some overnight closures in the week.
The £3m project means motorists will be diverted up the slip roads.
Traffic intending to travel over the A47 will be diverted via the slip roads to either the Pullover or Hardwick roundabouts, depending on the direction of travel.
Drivers will then loop back and leave the A47 to return onto the A148.
The bridges will remain open for pedestrians and cyclists.
West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long said he understands many people will be worried about the work but said: “When roadworks are carried out on major routes, delays are always a possibility, there’s no getting around that.
“But a lot of the work is planned for overnight, which should minimise any delays.”
Anyone wanting more information about the work and diversions should call Highways England customer care line 0300 123 5000.