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Town leaders buoyed by Orwell Bridge closure measures being considered by Highways England

PUBLISHED: 19:00 27 October 2017 | UPDATED: 21:31 27 October 2017

The Orwell Bridge.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Orwell Bridge. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Town leaders in Ipswich have welcomed work by Highways England to lessen the impact of Orwell Bridge closures, and are hopeful they will make a big difference to travel in the area.

George Debman, Ipswich borough councillor and lead on the council’s Orwell Bridge task and finish group, said: “A lot of small ideas put together, could, and I believe will, make a huge difference, and the one I am really excited about is the fact that the Highways agency are now looking at actually having automated barriers at the Wherstead interchange and also the Nacton interchange.”

He added: “I can see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has been involved in providing feedback from businesses to Highways England at the summits that have been held, and said a free flowing A14 had wider impacts than just Ipswich.

Nick Burfield, policy director, said: “Locally it’s a crucial link obviously.

George Debman said the small measures could make a big difference. Picture: SU ANDERSON George Debman said the small measures could make a big difference. Picture: SU ANDERSON

“Getting goods out and materials in, getting people to meetings, conducting day to day business, the A14 generally needs to flow freely.

“But it is more than just a Suffolk issue – 42% of the country’s container traffic comes through Felixstowe and 70% of that goes on to the A14 so if the bridge closes a big chunk of the UK economy closes, it’s a vital link.”

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin was also present at Thursday’s meeting, and called for multiple diversion routes to make sure traffic did not all divert onto one road and cause more delays.

“I am encouraged that Highways England, Suffolk County Council and the police are working together to try and reduce the level of accidents on the Orwell Bridge, that clearly has to be a good thing.

Nick Burfield, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said the bridge was integral to the UK economy as well as Suffolk. Picture: PHIL MORLEY Nick Burfield, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said the bridge was integral to the UK economy as well as Suffolk. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

“But I am not convinced the best approach is being taken to diversions when the bridge does have to be closed.

“I think the work Highways England has done on planned closures is very good but their response for emergency closures still does not meet the basic point that there is not one route that can take that traffic.”

Mr Martin said a meeting had been arranged before Christmas with Highways England, police and authorities where he would once again raise the issue.

What do you think of the measures? Share your thoughts by emailing us here.

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