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Road closures are beyond a joke for anyone seeking to move around Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 January 2018

Gas company Cadent is installing a new main in Norwich Road in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Gas company Cadent is installing a new main in Norwich Road in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

I always try to be as reasonable as possible when dealing with officialdom and those who make decisions that affect our lives.

Heavy traffic along Grafton Way due to the closure of the Orwell bridge.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Heavy traffic along Grafton Way due to the closure of the Orwell bridge. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

There are things they have to do – and in many cases it’s a question of short-term pain for long-term gain.

Take for instance the state of our roads. I understand that there have to be roadworks. I know there needs to be new gas and water mains laid.

I know it’s daft to bang on about the lack of broadband connectivity in Suffolk (or Essex) and then complain when BT or whoever digs up the road to install broadband cable.

I get all that. I really do – sometimes I’ve been accused of being too reasonable, too understanding. But I do hope I realise that if we want to live in a civilised society there are times when some disruption is necessary.

But in all my life I really do not remember a time when Ipswich, where I live and work and know better than anywhere else, has been so blighted by roadworks.

I don’t recall ever having felt so cut off in and around my home town.

Admittedly things appear to have eased slightly over the last couple of days. Two of the planned roadworks, in Wherstead Road and Bramford Road, have been completed.

But there is still a feeling that the town centre is under siege.

What is frustrating is that so many of the roadworks seem to coincide to create the maximum disruption. Why weren’t the planned Anglian Water works in Bramford Road last week put off until after the Norwich Road works are completed next month?

To have disruption on two parallel roads into the town centre at the same time seems bonkers!

Added to all these problems, of course, we have yet another closure of the Orwell Bridge to contend with.

At the time of writing the bridge was due to close at 9pm on Wednesday and reopen on Thursday lunchtime. Of course, the weather is never that certain and if the wind eases during the early hours (as it did in November) we may have escaped the Thursday morning rush-hour horror.

But if it is shut then Highways England does need to explain again why it had to close – and motorists do need to understand this is not done by some Blofeld-like figure in Whitehall determined to wreak havoc on Ipswich.

Motorists do have a part to play. If the bridge is closed, then if you’re driving into work you need to allow longer. If you’re making a trip that isn’t necessary, you need to ask yourself if it can be postponed.

And at the risk of my sounding like a stuck record, some may like to consider other ways of getting to work or even working from home.

I know that’s not practical for everyone – but if some do find other ways of travel it will make life easier for those who do have to drive.

But coming back to the roadworks issue.

I know that if there are emergency roadworks they have to be done straight away – you can’t put off repairing a broken gas or water main.

But I cannot work out why local authorities should not have the power to demand (not request, not cajole, but demand) that utilities get a permit for ordinary maintenance or replacement work.

That would ensure you don’t have a situation where two utilities are doing planned work on parallel roads at the same time.

It would ensure councils were not “blind-sided” and were always able to give residents adequate notice before the temporary lights go in.

And it would be an extra assurance that utilities co-operated and didn’t return to the same piece of road just after someone else has finished digging it up.

In the meantime, though, I suppose we just have to grin and bear the current miserable road conditions we find in and around Ipswich town centre.

We can all look forward to the bright sunny uplands of spring, when all the roadworks are complete and we are all able to get around the town with ease and with no temporary traffic lights, diversion notices, and without sharing the streets with juggernauts diverted from the Orwell Bridge.

That’s all bound to happen by March, isn’t it? After all, there can be hardly any roads in Ipswich that haven’t been dug up by someone or another over the last 12 months!

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