May 23 2013 Latest news:
By Paul Geater
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
No more A14 disasters!
That will be the blunt message which will be given to senior figures responsible for managing the A14 at a summit meeting in Ipswich next week.
The meeting will be chaired by local MPs Ben Gummer and Therese Coffey and has been called in the wake of last year’s road closures – two of which clogged up Ipswich for 24 hours.
As well as MPs and council chiefs, it will also be attended by police and officials from the Highways Agency in a bid to ensure that any future problems are quickly dealt with.
Motorists in Ipswich are often faced with bumper-to-bumper congestion as a result of accidents on the A14, particularly those which are close to the bridge.
Mr Gummer said many people in the town had been frustrated by the time it took to deal with two incidents on the A14 at the beginning of October.
“It took nearly eight hours to clear a load of onions that had gone across the road when a lorry overturned – and when that was cleared there was another accident which took about 16 hours to clear,” he said.
“I know the road has to be made safe before the road can be reopened, but we need to establish why it took so long to get things sorted out.
“When there is a problem on the Orwell Bridge the whole town centre comes to a standstill.”
Dr Coffey said: “The A14 over the Orwell Bridge is the gateway to the whole of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney.
“We have to ensure that when there are problems they are dealt with as quickly as possible.
“There is sometimes the impression that there is not the urgency that is needed.”
Suffolk county councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor will be hosting the meeting at Endeavour House.
He said: “It is vital that the local authorities, police and Highways Agency officials talk to each other and understand how vital it is to get the road open again as soon as possible.
“There have been too many occasions when it has seemed that officials take too long to react when there are major accidents.
“I also want to look at managing the road to prevent accidents in the first place – if there is bad weather making the road dangerous, shouldn’t it be possible to get heavy lorries off the road before they cause major problems?”
Around one million extra lorries a year will be using the A14 when the Port of Felixstowe completes the next phase of its expansion – expected in the next decade providing the economy improves – to create more deepwater berths at the southern end of the port.
At present more than 4,500 trucks visit every day – in and out – to unload or collect containers.
As well as the misery for drivers, gridlock caused by accidents on the A14 also creates problems for businesses and shops in the town centre.
Speaking after the onion spill in October, Paul Clement, chief executive of IP Central, said: “It’s hugely inconvenient and there is no question that something like this will damage the economy of a town.
“It is important that we see them as an unfortunate coincidence – it’s not the norm – it’s just one of those things.”