Are our roads at breaking point?

WITH Suffolk's major roads again the scene of extensive delays yesterday a new report claims our poor routes will soon affect our region's future developments and business.

WITH Suffolk's major roads again the scene of extensive delays yesterday a new report claims our poor routes will soon affect our region's future developments and business. LISA WOOLLARD looks at possible solutions for the county.

WITHIN the space of four weeks so far this autumn, there have been nine accidents on the A14.

Each crash brought with it major queues and crippling delays for motorists trying to get about the region.

The issue came to the fore yesterday when a broken down lorry near the Copdock Interchange caused miles of tailbacks - while the driver changed a burst tyre in the early morning rush hour.

After the recent struggle for Suffolk motorists, a new report claims the transport provision in this area is at breaking point and must be upgraded. The Institute of Civil Engineers' annual review says the region will suffer dire consequences if work is not done soon and highlights the A14 and A12 as problem roads.

The national report includes a section about the East of England, which points out that by 2021 there will be more than 400,000 new jobs and nearly half a million new homes - plus the further expansion of Stansted airport and commercial ports including Felixstowe.

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One solution which has been offered by the Institute, is to introduce road charges to reduce the number of vehicles using our busy roads.

John Canton of the Institute, said: “We see the long term future as some form of road charging.

“If roads are extended to include another lane then we will just see the same problems happening in the future of them filling up again and becoming too busy.

“We feel the way forward is to introduce a GPS-type system into cars which would automatically charge motorists who use busy roads - especially at peak times.”

Mr Canton said areas which the report stated needed desperate attention include the Copdock interchange and the A14, A12 and A120 between Ipswich, Colchester and Stansted.

He added: “Roads such as the A14 take extremely heavy traffic and it only takes one accident for a long jam to build-up.”

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said it was already working on the problem and saw the solution in addressing the structure already built in the area. He said: “We hope to make the best of the road network we already have, by using new technologies to make improvements.

“We are committed to improvements in the region's network, especially on the A14, because we consider these to be very important roads. We do have plans which being put in place to help the road structure.”

At Felixstowe Port, corporate affairs manager Paul Davey feels the company is not being affected by the strain on the region's roads. He said: “At the time we put in for recent expansions of the ports in this area we took into account the impact on the county's roads.

“We will be investing heavily in the Copdock interchange roundabout, the Dockspur roundabout in Felixstowe and the A120 heading out to Harwich.

“We feel the capacity of the roads is strong enough for our business at the moment and improvements will be enough in the future. Having said that we support any investment into the transport structure in this area.”

A spokeswoman for Axa insurance company in Ipswich, said: “Several of our staff use the roads to get in to work. They are often delayed by accidents on the roads and this is something we frequently have to deal with.

“However, I do not feel our business is affected any more or any less than any other business in this area or another.”

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What do you think of the A14? Is it already at bursting point?

Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarnews@eveningstar.co.uk.