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Poll/Gallery: Answers are being demanded after onion spill on A14 causes traffic misery in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 16:22 04 October 2012

Traffic queueing near Junction 54 on the A14 due to the onion spill.

Traffic queueing near Junction 54 on the A14 due to the onion spill.


AN MP today demanded answers following a day of misery which caused havoc for motorists across Ipswich and Felixstowe.

No need for northern bypass, MP says

IPSWICH MP Ben Gummer dismissed the idea of looking again at a northern bypass for Ipswich.

The bypass would link the A14 north of Ipswich with the A12 in Martlesham.

“We are not going to have enough money to build something as expensive as the northern bypass and that is if you can get the consent of villagers,” he said.

“When this was last mooted there was such a determined campaign against it, it was politically impossible.”

Ipswich Borough councillor Philip Smart, transport portfolio holder, also questioned whether an initiative such as the northern bypass would have stopped the traffic delays seen in Ipswich yesterday.

Mr Smart added: “My own feeling is that what we have got here are accidents caused by lorries in both cases and that really, long term, we should be looking at putting more goods on rail.”

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 yesterday, the gridlock also caused problems for businesses and shops in the town centre.

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.”

On one of the worst 24 hours in the history of our fragile road network, jaded motorists faced unprecedented delays after two accidents on the A14.

The chaos began at 6.50am when a lorry overturned near the Orwell Bridge, shedding its load of onions across both carriageways.

Police closed three lanes – the entire westbound carriageway and lane two heading in the opposite direction – for seven-and-a-half hours, flooding traffic into a gridlocked Ipswich.

A spokesman for the constabulary said the delay was caused by the need to conduct skid tests on the stretch of road after the onions had been collected.

But after finally fully reopening the bridge at 2.42pm, police officers were forced to close the same section 18 minutes later when three lorries collided on the westbound carriageway, close to the Seven Hills roundabout.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer – who himself was caught up in heavy traffic in Nacton Road – today questioned the length of time it took to reopen the A14.

He said he will be speaking to the Highways Agency and the police.

Referring to the time it took to conduct the clean-up operation following the onion spill, Mr Gummer said: “What I want to know is was this cleared up as quickly as it could have been? Because it happened early in the morning and it is not like people were hurt.”

The Highways Agency said the westbound carriageway would be closed overnight at the Seven Hills roundabout.

The day of motoring misery was triggered when a 50-tonne lorry overturned close to the Shell garage at Nacton, around 500 yards before the Orwell Bridge.

One eye-witness told The Star: “It looks as though the lorry has left the garage to rejoin the carriageway and shed its load as it went over.”

Closing three lanes of the Orwell Bridge had a disastrous knock-on effect for all other routes into Ipswich.

Traffic was diverted off the A14 at Nacton, snaking through Ransomes Europark and hitting Nacton Road, Landseer Road and Felixstowe Road with Colchester Road also affected.

Meanwhile in Wherstead Road traffic inched towards the town centre as frustrated motorists were forced off the A14 before the Orwell Bridge at Wherstead.

Roadworks in the one-way system at Fore Street and at the Civic Drive, Princes Street roundabout exacerbated the problems.

Star reader Norman Salmon, who spent more than an hour travelling from Epsom Drive, off Henley Road to the Riverside Clinic in Landseer Road, said if an ambulance had needed to get a patient suffering a heart attack to Papworth Hospital they might not have made it in time.

The 74-year-old, who has travelled to the Cambridgeshire hospital for heart treatment, said: “Why can’t the borough and county councillors and MPs get together and do something about the issue?

“What if an ambulance had needed to get someone who was critically ill to Papworth? There were cars all over the place, there is no way they could have got through.

“It was chaos. What about fire engines? Someone could have been burning to death and fire crews might not have been able to get through.”

Police say two people were hurt in the second incident at the Seven Hills roundabout.

The air ambulance was dispatched to the scene.

A police spokesman said one person received life-changing injuries to his leg, while a second patient was treated for a broken arm.

A spokesman for the force defended the time it took to clear the mess, citing safety issues as their main priority.

“It was not just a case of recovering the lorry, which can take a long time in itself, but picking up all the onions as well.

“Once the road was cleared we had to carry out a standard skid test to ensure the road surface is safe for vehicles to drive over.”

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  • I bet the police and HA are quaking in their boots at the thought of being spoken to by 'Big Ben' !

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • There has been some concern expressed about drivers taking photos of queuing traffic. The Ipswich Star photographers only use their cameras when it is safe to do so, when their cars are stationary and their engines are turned off. Traffic was so slow on the A14 yesterday that people were stopping completely, making it possible for us to get some of these photos. Others were taken by passengers. Although we ask for photos from the scene of a major news story we would never condone anyone putting themselves or others at risk. Natalie Hoodless, Digital Publisher, Archant Suffolk

    Report this comment

    Natalie Sadler

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • One million extra lorries will use the A14 when then the new dock expansion is complete but what about the road network to support those lorries? Why isn't central government being pushed to provide money to solve this? Certainly more needs to be taken by rails and the new dual-ling of the rail track will help take some trucks off the road but if those that get removed are just replaced by this new million then when does the situation ever improve?

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • Well it's nice to see that the MP is taking some action over this but it makes me wonder if he would have if he hadn't been caught up in the traffic yesterday? Bless him for thinking about himself The Northern bypass has been talked about before but the local residents didn't want it with the usual "Not in my backyard" mentality. And what happened to the dock link road from the Nacton interchange down to Ipswich Docks that was supposed to go behind the old airport? again people moved into the houses then campaigned against it until it was dropped. And then there was the plan to move containers to a new terminal at Stowmarket which would have reduced the amount of lorries on this stretch of the A14 but again this plan never came to anything. While no-one likes change the mentality of being apposed to everything has left Felixstowe as a one road town and when something happens along it then it does cause chaos everywhere else. Just Think what it would be like if enough people had protested about the building of the Orwell bridge and it hadn't been built all the traffic still came through Ipswich on a daily basis. And another thing what was a 50 tonne lorry doing on our roads the weight limit for a standard artic is only 40 tones, Sorry Mr Gummer if that held you up a bit longer but I think the safety of the other road users is just as important as you making it to some meeting or maybe a dinner booking.

    Report this comment

    Tim Amass

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • Don't ask the councils, as they will probably do their usual and dig up the entire road network at the same time, narrow all the lanes and install even more traffic lights to "control" the traffic.

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    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • Skid tests? I never realised onions were transported in vats of grease. Health and safety gone mad.

    Report this comment

    Ted Maul

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • Over the years, many projects e.g. the Grange Farm development, have gone ahead due to the inclusion of a northern bypass to ease traffic on the A14 and A1214 as part of the development. Clearly, a Northern Bypass is felt to be necessary yet, time and again, these developments are completed without it materialising. And now, despite yesterday's incidents again causing traffic chaos, Ben Gummer dismisses the idea of the bypass as unnecessary. I believe I read this more as 'NIMBY'.

    Report this comment

    paul e.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • The building of new roads, bypasses would not be necessary if the Highways Agency, local authority and police got their fingers out and cleared roads quickly. Why does it take a whole day to re-open an important major road? Every accident is treated as a "crime scene" Getting the road open will be even more of a priority as more traffic comes into Felixstowe. Also nearly all accidents involve lorries, very large fines should be made on ALL lorry drivers and their employers until they learn to drive sensibly and safely These fines should be used to compensate the local community for the inconvenience caused Better still get most freight onto rail

    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • Such optimism: within two years London will have a new port planned to handle 3.5million tcu. It will be a fierce competitor. Why are we so concerned about bringing foreign goods into the country? If we make our own products we would not need to detroy our land to help foreign imports, we'd save money and create jobs.

    Report this comment


    Friday, October 5, 2012

  • The whole town was gridlocked it seemed. Even roads not normally so. You forgot the roadworks at the top of Grove Lane - they didn't help either.

    Report this comment

    Winston Barrington Jr.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • the a14 was blocked because of an accident if you drive i assume you all know what an accident is the police and other services did the best they could to clear the road as soon as it were possible while taking care of there own safety at the same time and for those that choose to jump down ben gummer throat he is probably the best mp ipswich has had in a long time if drivers took a bit more care when behind the wheel we would not have these issues in the first place yesterday it was blocked today it was,nt get on with it

    Report this comment

    fred day

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • The comment from Mr Smart about putting more goods on the rail is sometimes unworkable. There will be a need to built a goods unloading dock at Bury St Edmunds Sugar factory for the Sugar beat & somewhere for the farmers to load it. Did the Onions come from Felixstowe Dock?

    Report this comment

    Keith W

    Thursday, October 4, 2012


    Report this comment


    Thursday, October 4, 2012

  • It was a good day to be biking to work, that's for sure. I'm sure the £70 m signs came is useful !!!! I wonder if it still said 60min to get to Cambridge.

    Report this comment

    glen t

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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