Ipswich: Town grinds to a halt in bad weather – but experts say the worst is still to come

Traffic backs up on Colchester Road in Ipswich due to Orwell Bridge's closure on Wednesday. Traffic backs up on Colchester Road in Ipswich due to Orwell Bridge's closure on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 13, 2014
9:49 AM

Forecasters have warned the worst is yet to come after Ipswich ground to a halt yesterday when gale force winds and torrential rain forced the closure of the Orwell Bridge causing travel chaos.

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Downpours and winds stronger than those that prompted the Highways Agency to shut the bridge for more than three hours yesterday afternoon are expected tomorrow.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the persistent problems posed by the bridge’s closure called for a “long-term strategic solution”.

“That either means an improved route around the north of the town, a new river crossing or both,” he said.

“I’m trying to push both councils to look at realistically at both options.

“Yesterday just shows why we are going to need to make serious plans soon.”

Mr Gummer said the closures were a hassle for people and off-putting to businesses looking to create jobs in the town.

“The town grinds to a halt and I think that previously it has been thought that it’s only Ipswich so it does not matter – well that’s not good enough.”

Motorists reported journeys of three miles taking as long as 30 minutes, even after the bridge reopened at 5.15pm.

Parks and cemeteries in the town closed early for fear of falling trees and Ipswich Borough Council advised people to take extra care in those areas.

A fallen tree also blocked the train line at Kennett, causing delays and cancellations to services between Ipswich and Cambridge.

After a brief respite today, when dry, breezy conditions are hoped to ease the saturated land, downpours and gale force winds are expected to return tomorrow.

Norman Robinson, from the Environment Agency, said: “People really need to keep an eye on the forecast and local conditions as we move into the weekend.

“We could have up to 20mm of rain over already wet ground so river levels will rise again and flood plains will get wetter.

“Travel across the region could be difficult and dangerous in places.”

Forecasters at Weatherquest are predicting winds gusting up to 70mph across the region, with coastal areas expected to fare the worst.

“There’s going to be heavy rain in the afternoon and late into the evening with some very strong winds that could become severe gales again,” said Jim Bacon.

“There could be storm force winds from a westerly and southerly direction and some very severe weather through the night.”

Mr Bacon said it was “very difficult” to make exact predictions while the low weather front was still forming on the other side of the Atlantic, though he has warned of trouble ahead.

“It can’t be very pleasing with the people who are already struggling to cope with yesterday’s wind and rain to know there’s another front close on its heels to come,” he said.

23 comments

  • Here we go again, the bridge has closed and then suddenly people are surprised that the town comes to a standstill. It is blindingly obvious everyone knows what needs to be done, but it will never happen. I was reading an archive magazine the other day from Feb 1992 where there were people saying we need a Northern Bypass, this conversation has been ongoing for 25 odd years, don't expect anything to happen for another 25 years.

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    Tedbundy

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • IIRC didn't Ben Gummer state that his constituents wouldn't be getting a Northern Bypass because the residents of Otley didn't want it and, as such, was a dead idea? If so, he appears to have changed his tune quite substantially!

    Report this comment

    paul e.

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • we were all told that the bridge would reopen at 5pm so would it not have made sense to have stacked the lorries till this happened like when the docks close, it took me over two hours to go from the top of nacton rd to claydon some double container lorries had blocked roundabouts and side roads ,i heard on the radio that people could not get to the hospital due to the hold up ,will the powers to be learn ? dont hold your breath.

    Report this comment

    pandy

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • @roundtabend You and the Daily Mail in one corner and everyone who actually knows what their on about in another. You should get out of your box now and again, it'll make wealthier, healthier and happier.

    Report this comment

    IanW

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • @roundtabend You and the Daily Mail in one corner and everyone who actually knows what their on about in another. You should get out of your box now and again, it'll make wealthier, healthier and happier.

    Report this comment

    IanW

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • This is a massive concrete structure, surely with todays knowledge a wind break could be added, this would stop it being closed and also stop people jumping off it.

    Report this comment

    shane cartwright

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • This is a massive concrete structure, surely with todays knowledge a wind break could be added, this would stop it being closed and also stop people jumping off it.

    Report this comment

    shane cartwright

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Please people calm down. The simple fact is Ipswich needs a new Northern Bypass, the fact is we are going to allow some developer to build 5,000 houses to the North of Ipswich, 500 homes in Bury resulted in the £18m Eastern Relief Road. So it should cost £90m to build a Nothern Relief Road see the correlation in costs. But Suffolk County Council maintain that getting strategic routes built by developers is impossible so they do not try, they would rather get another High School Built, when upgrading Thurlston and Northgate would be a lot easier. So you take your priorities unneeded schools and social housing or new Northern Bypass. Since Schools and Social Housing have to be supplied by whatever council we talk about it is a no brainer for them, get them free. Next is the issue that Ipswich does not control it's own destiny. We are asked to take strategic growth for the region without the infastructure build. Secondly the boundray is drawn so tight even when greater Ipswich was proposed back in 2003 Westerfield, Tuddenham, Playford and the Bealings were all excluded. So unless somebody is prepared to stand up and say this is the strategic plan for the area around Ipswich to Felixstowe this debate is going nowhere.

    Report this comment

    The Ginge

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Don't worry - it will all be okay when all the traffic lights have been installed and linked up

    Report this comment

    Mr Grumpy

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • 3 miles in 30 minutes?... wouldnt that have been great? Warren to Hadleigh Road - 2hrs. The County Council roadworks looked like amateurs compared to the Highways Agency.

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • In a marginal constituency like Ipswich where transport and travel in the town is now one of major issues, not only for personal reasons but business reasons, Gummer or Ellesmere could almost nail the victory now by open declaring they will push hard for a northern relief road. The situation is becoming farcical, and it's only a matter of time before the economy of the town really starts to suffer because of the recurring problems. Businesses just won't want to invest here.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • This is a massive concrete structure, surely with todays knowledge a wind break could be added, this would stop it being closed and also stop people jumping off it.

    Report this comment

    shane cartwright

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • You would expect villagers to whinge but they are quite happy to clog our roads up

    Report this comment

    m01

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Northern Bypass, its the only option. As a resident living on the current "bypass" that takes most of the traffic when the bridge is shut I can tell you that the roads are struggling to cope now at peak times, (getting noticeably worse in last 12 months) with the bridge shut it can't cope at all, and with the prospect of 1000s more homes on the Northern Fringe, the continual expansion of Felixstowe Docks and (hopefully) the upturn in the economy we need to start getting it in place NOW! I love the countryside to the North of Ipswich, and would regret the loss of any of it, but the simple fact is the local economy cannot be expected to rely on something as vulnerable to the weather, accidents, etc as is the Orwell Bridge. And I agree with the comment below, the politician who is brave enough over the next few months to put his name behind a Northern Bypass Campaign is going to do very well come 2015.

    Report this comment

    mmm

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • A carbon economy is warming the seas, melting ice and increasing extreme weather events. De forestation and building is reducing the lands ability to cope with the additional water. And the solution is- Build more roads to facilitate more traffic!!

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    IanW

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • That Tory Ben Gummer again... there are 3 potential options to solve the problem (it was needed about 5 years ago... the roads in Ipswich are congested enough even when the bridge is open!) The first and most obvious is the Northern Bypass, he for some reason hasn't suggested this (probably because its not his remit as the Ipswich MP doesn't extend to North Ipswich!) ... the second is the Waterfront crossing which is a completely silly idea as it relies on the current poor road infrastructure and going to encourage congestion further around such area and the third is an "improved route"... which is bonkers. The ring road cannot be improved - unless of course you are willing to knock down buildings either side of the road to add an extra lane each side? Perhaps focus should be of Ben Gummer writing less books, but reading books instead? BT's Adastral Park is a significant employment area on the outskirts of the town... why should people coming from the A14 have to drive all the way down and around Ipswich to get there? A Northern Bypass is not only needed for when the bridge shuts, an incident that shuts the A14 and for the new housing developments, it is also needed to get across Suffolk easier. I guess the belief of diverting everyone through Ipswich instead of a Northern Bypass is to encourage shopping? Do they really count the traffic for statistics as of the new Travel Ipswich "improvements"?

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • more safe cycle lanes so local people can leave cars at home would help with traffic jams.

    Report this comment

    dc

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • In a marginal constituency like Ipswich where transport and travel in the town is now one of major issues, not only for personal reasons but business reasons, Gummer or Ellesmere could almost nail the victory now by open declaring they will push hard for a northern relief road. The situation is becoming farcical, and it's only a matter of time before the economy of the town really starts to suffer because of the recurring problems. Businesses just won't want to invest here.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • The answer is simple, "a northern bypass" as you would expect it looks like Norwich is getting one.

    Report this comment

    m01

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • I was stuck on Bishops Hill for over half an hour at 2:30pm yesterday along with a massive queue of traffic all the way up Felixstowe Road, caused by the Orwell Bridge being closed. BUT made far worse by road works on the Docks one way system reducing converging traffic to JUST ONE LANE! The result after leaving in very good time, I missed an important medical appointment! Is it beyond the wit of man to suspend the roadworks, chaos caused by buses in the bus lanes, pedestrian traffic lights etc., during these extreme events. surely the priority should be to keep the traffic moving, not see how far one can back it up. The situation is becoming rediculous made far worse by the councils irrational traffic management systems.

    Report this comment

    keitmort

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Cameron has said "what ever it takes" to sort out problems caused by the weather so seems like a good time to press the need for the Northern bypass. Gummer now seems to support any solution. A second river crossing would be no use for this type of event as both crossings would close so a Northern bypass is the only sensible option.

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    amsterdam81

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • cycling great idea, not in this sort of weather though, so everyone will still be in their cars. And anyway the current round of roadworks and traffic lights are supposed to improve cycling into the town, noticed any improvements yet ?

    Report this comment

    mmm

    Friday, February 14, 2014

  • A Northern bypass is required but the councils on whose land it will be built aren't keen because it wouldn't be popular with residents (ie voters) who would end living near it. So those that get most effected, (the residents of Ipswich) will have to wait whilst the politicians play their games to hang onto their jobs rather than do what is best for the majority of people. As for the Green lobby promoting less roads and less car travel, they are in cloud cuckoo land as no sensible person is going to give the comfort and convenience of their car for the cold and unreliability of public transport. Plan for what we have, not some Green utopian dream. That means more roads, better car parking, and LESS traffic lights and bus lanes.

    Report this comment

    Driven Roundabend

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

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