A47 - A1042

Postwick Junction

Where is it?

On the A47 east of Norwich, rebuilt to a new layout in anticipation of the yet-to-be-built Norwich Northern Distributor Road.

It was nominated by Paul Robson, Matthew and several others in Norwich.

What's wrong with it?

This junction has been changed to prepare for the new Norwich Northern Distributor Road, a major new route around the north of the city that will terminate on the A47 here at Postwick. What's wrong with it is the new layout — a sort of collision of two dumbbell junctions, fused together with the entrance to a park-and-ride site at a signalised junction. Admittedly, for as long as the new road ends in a field just to the north, it's not working as intended — but the early indications don't look entirely promising.

Beware of the aerial photography — it hasn't yet caught up with the latest modifications to Postwick Junction and doesn't show the full layout.

Why is it wrong?

The original layout here was a form of dumbbell — a roundabout either side of the A47, a bridge, four sliproads. The problem facing Norfolk County Council was how to modify that junction to allow a major new dual carriageway to terminate here.

One way to look at this problem would be to model possible traffic flows, examine the journeys through the junction that would be most common, and then provide a significantly upgraded junction that would almost certainly need to include some direct connections between the new road and the A47 without affecting existing traffic flows.

Another way to look at this problem — and this may or may not have been the approach taken by the engineers who took on the job, who knows — is to have a look what's left in your overdraft and wonder whether you've got enough money to build anything much. When the surveyor puffs out their cheeks, sticks their thumbs into their braces, and announces "well, it's going to cost you", you could then haggle until it's decided you have enough money to buy one bridge and a budget pack of five roundabouts (one size fits all, Made In China, not suitable for dishwasher or microwave use) and see what you can do with that.

We do not know, of course, which approach was followed at Postwick or whether some other form of reasoning is behind this unorthodox tangle. But the result is a junction that seems to involve some strange choices. The direct sliproad from the city to the A47 has been removed, making outbound traffic from the A1042 take an extended tour around two roundabouts and through some traffic lights; has added a roundabout serving a narrow road to the village of Postwick, when one hadn't been necessary before; and introduced a future pitfall that means when the new road is finally built it can be reached from the west by a free-flowing sliproad, but the reverse movement passes through a roundabout and a set of traffic lights.

What would be better?

A little bit of imagination and a bit more tarmac - with no bridgeworks necessary - could fix the most frustrating problems with this junction at a stroke. A link from the north-western roundabout, on the A1042, joining the north-eastern roundabout would allow eastbound traffic from the A1042 to the A47 to get onto the dual carriageway without having to detour to the south and pass through some traffic lights. There's also room to fit in a small, low-speed loop sliproad from the new bridge to the A47 westbound, meaning traffic coming off the new road could reach the A47 without passing through the traffic lights.

Trouble is there's only £6.50 left in the overdraft this month and that's got to cover the cost of a pint of milk and a fiver on the electricity meter, so any further improvement to this junction will have to wait

Not to worry - the Norwich Northern Distributor Road hasn't opened yet, so for the time being at least it's not as busy as it could be!


Right to reply

Derek 2 June 2016

The motto of Norfolk is "People in Norfolk do things different" - not differently, but different and that's important. This is different. It's also Norfolk and good so what could possibly go wrong?

Clive 12 November 2016

This junction is indeed a catatrophic combination of bad planning and a failure to listen to road users. The slip road from the eastbound southern bypass means a tortuous journey through confusingly signed lights and roundabouts which, even if negotiated successfully, adds an additional two miles or so and at least 15 minutes if you are unreasonable enough to want to go back into the city (to get to Thorpe for instance). Countless lorries have found themselves back on the A47 heading back to Yarmouth, the direction from which they have have just come and who actually want to get into Norwich. I like many local people are utterly confused by this nightmare and have genuinely got lost trying to negotiate it. And as for the congestion and associated delays it causes at peak times - clearly those responsible for proposing and approving the 'design' knew that they would never have to use it themselves. It is an embarrassing shambles. Thank goodness the Road to Nowhere, which won't join up to the A47 to the west of Norwich when completed, will not add any significant traffic to the junction.

Paul 6 December 2016

The worst route is if you want to come from the west and enter Norwich East. This used to be very popular, so much so that the roundabout where the sliproad joined had a filter just for this. Now you have to go round *five* roundabouts.

The first time I went round this mess my wife was driving, and she was convinced I was sending her on some sort of windup trip.

Don 22 April 2018

Now the 'road to nowhere' is open try getting from Yarmouth on to it. Miss the right turn at the traffic lights and you'll probably never be seen again

Rob H 20 May 2018

Can anyone local explain to me (for real) why the sliproad from the A47 eastbound to the A1042 back into the city was closed? I'm not local but it just seems insane, especially since there's no other junctions you could use for this. Why force traffic through the new roundabout and traffic light junction when there used to be a perfectly good sliproad?

That's the $64,000 question that has also been puzzling the hell out of me!

It's a bit like what happened on the M40 at Cherwall Valley interchange - where a direct motorway entry slip was replaced with a tightly-curving one, an extra roundabout and more conflict between traffic flows.
Thankfully Highways England saw sense and rebuilt that junction to remove most of the mess a couple of years ago - hopefully something similar might happen here but the junction is so different to what was there before that it may prove more of a challenge.

Yes, I remember the original M40/A43 junction before they re- designed it to that ridiculous set-up. Whoever thought (and authorised) that one up should be in a padded cell. I haven't used the latest effort, but it has to be better than the first attempt.

Well, amazingly, the argument I heard was there was so much traffic coming Eastbound on the A47 wanting to go into East Norwich on the A1042 that when it was very busy traffic was queuing onto the A47 which was dangerous.

So the solution, obviously, is to close the link off and send the driver round something like seventeen roundabouts if they want to go to Thorpe St Andrew. Which will work really well.

On the upside they don't have to go through the Blackpool Illuminations (the traffic light junction). Children have been conceived and born trying to get past them.

I have a theory. Some dingbat in Norfolk County Council heard of Switch Island and thought it was some sort of Theme Park (Understandable, given the amount of time you can spend there), so they asked the staff to "build us something like Switch Island".

Martin C 28 May 2018

The northern distributor road is now open and the junction is a complete shambles. I just came to see if it was listed, and sure enough yes! To make any negotiation around here is completely bizarre and throw a 6 to start....

Chris, your drawn layout is actually a bit misleading - there're no eastbound sliproads between the A47 and the "old" A1042 roundabout (unless you count in the absolutely precarious ped & cycle path). So in this instance, the A1042 is just a really awkwardly pitched road in the whole junction, and deserves a better place for it's existence.

Yes, we know that, that is the whole point of the discussion here. You can clearly see on the aerial map that the Eastbound sliproad is now closed.

Derek Williams 7 January 2019

The NDR - or "Broadland Northway" as they try to call it - has arrived now and this delightful junction is now carrying a lot more traffic. Amazingly, it seems to sort of work, but don't go there, seriously.

Matthew Anniss 6 August 2020

Coming from Norwich through Thorpe At Andrew, I now take the first left to the Broadland Park, take the third exit at the roundabout, negotiate an inconvenient small roundabout and join the NDR turning right to the join the A47 towards Yarmouth.

Some might say that's a bit silly but it takes the annoyance out using the traffic lights (and the people that constantly cut in because of the rubbish lane markings and layout at said traffic lights.

At least I come away each time with a little more sanity...

Matt 5 March 2023

The business area around this junction has begun to be developed. Now traffic wanting to go from Eastbound A47 to City bound A1042 is sent up the NDR and around the business park instead of right and then right at the traffic lights.

This whole area is a complete mess and completely confusing considering it was meant to be future proofed

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