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Orwell Bridge closure reignites debate over need for Ipswich northern bypass

PUBLISHED: 08:00 21 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:36 21 October 2017

Traffic in Ipswich ground to halt after the fatal crash on the Orwell Bridge on Friday morning. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Traffic in Ipswich ground to halt after the fatal crash on the Orwell Bridge on Friday morning. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fresh calls are being made for a northern bypass after the eight-hour closure of the Orwell Bridge yesterday sparked travel chaos in Ipswich.

Traffic chaos in Ipswich.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Traffic chaos in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

While drivers were understanding and expressed sadness at the news a man had died in the crash, they said the disruption that followed highlighted how quickly Ipswich grinds to a halt.

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Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said a solution is needed urgently if there is to be any hope of preventing “gridlock” in the town centre and on the A12 and A14 every time the bridge shuts.

County council chiefs said they have been looking at options for a possible northern route.

Mr Martin said: “I am heartened that the county council is now looking at a northern bypass or relief road – we need something soon and we need to do it without the pursuit of something more elaborate getting in the way. We need a solution as soon as possible.

Traffic chaos in Ipswich.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Traffic chaos in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“[This is] because if the county is only interested in plans which won’t even start being built until 2025, then that’s not a solution that we need.

“We need something that is going to be achieved within two to three years.”

Motorists also called for urgent action. Adrian Day said: “It’s terribly sad that someone has died this morning in another accident on the A14. But there has once again been total gridlock in and around Ipswich and this has highlighted the fragility of our road network.

“However, gridlock around the Nacton area is a regular occurrence at peak times and we can only expect this to get worse, much worse.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said work is continuing to establish whether a northern bypass would be viable.

They added: “Alongside our partners, we have been looking at options for a possible northern route. In January, we published a route study and work continues on the viability of any route to the north of Ipswich.”

Mr Martin said he hopes to meet with Highways England in the near future to discuss how best to minimise travel chaos in the event of a bridge closure. He added: “I am not suggesting for a moment that the accident that happened today could have been prevented.

“But as any kind of closure causes chaos on our roads, I am hoping to have a meeting with relevant authorities to see what causes these crashes and minimise disruption.”

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Drivers are being warned the Orwell Bridge is likely to shut tonight until tomorrow morning due to forecast high winds.

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The Chancellor announced some very large figures for the NHS in the budget – but health professionals and politicians in East Anglia were still trying to work out what it would mean for services on the ground.

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The count down to Christmas has begun, with residents across Suffolk preparing for various Christmas lights switch on events.

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