CHAOS BECKONS: The A47 view from Saddlebow BridgePicture: Tony Jones

DRIVERS can breathe a brief sigh of relief after it was confirmed repairs to the A47 will not start until after the summer.

The announcement comes after it was outlined that there would be a nine-month programme of routine maintenance and resurfacing on the trunk road between King’s Lynn and Peterborough.

A public notice released earlier this month initially stated that work at the Saddlebow interchange would begin on, or after Monday, July 3.

But Highways England now says motorists won’t be affected until September.

“We want to reassure people that the project in the Saddlebow and the King’s Lynn area is still in its early stage,” said a spokesman for the agency.

“Although the Temporary Traffic Regulation Order comes into effect on July 3, this refers to early technical ground work and should not affect road users.

“The actual scheme is not planned to start until September, as we wanted to avoid the peak season.”

The spokesman added that the agency is working with Norfolk County Council and other stakeholders on putting a programme of work together which would be published “very soon”.

Hunstanton town mayor, James Johnson, welcomed the news that the roadworks will now not take place during the coastal town’s busy tourist season.

He said: “It is great news. Hunstanton relies heavily on traffic coming here. If anyone was coming from places such as Nottingham or Derbyshire – a three-hour journey – it would’ve been four to five hours… that’s your day gone.”

Although fears over road chaos during the summer holidays have now been quelled, drivers will still face disruption when schools start the autumn term.

The proposed work will “enable bridge works, resurfacing, technology, routine maintenance and associated works to be carried out in safety”.

The majority of the work will take place overnight between 8pm and 6am, but there will be some weekend closures while bridge works at Saddlebow take place. Speed restrictions and lane closures will be in force. Drivers face lengthy diversions when roads are closed between the Pullover and Hardwick roundabouts. They will take drivers down the A1101, A1122 and A10. The stretch from Lynn to Wisbech will also be affected. Brian Long, leader of West Norfolk Council, said that although he understood concerns about possible delays he insisted the work was essential.

He said: “There may be short-term inconvenience, but in the long term, improvements to our roads benefit us all: local residents; businesses and tourists. When roadworks are carried out on major routes, delays are always a possibility. There’s no getting around that.

“However, a lot of the work is planned for overnight, which should minimise any delays.”