Boost for Suffolk's public transport

MOVES to improve public transport in Suffolk were today given a major boost.However there was a warning that there is little prospect of major new roads to relief congestion around Ipswich waterfront.

MOVES to improve public transport in Suffolk were today given a major boost.

However there was a warning that there is little prospect of major new roads to relief congestion around Ipswich waterfront.

Suffolk county council's executive committee backed a wish-list of five major schemes to bid for government money between 2006 and 2011.

But neither the east bank link road to the A14 nor a new crossing of the River Orwell were given council backing.

Both were described as being too expensive – and without a realistic chance of getting government backing.

Transport spokesman Julian Swainson told the committee that he had received many letters about the proposed east bank link road.

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"The vast majority of them express very great concern about its impact on the environment," he said.

Experts estimated that the cost of the road, with a complex junction on to the A14, would be £67 million – well over the maximum figure laid down by the government of £40 million.

Promoters of a private sector link in the same area insist those costs are far too high – they believe the road could be built for about £20 million.

Instead of new roads, the county council is set to back improvements to public transport and improved conditions for walkers and cyclists.

The county's executive also put its weight behind three new road schemes in Suffolk – on the A12 between Wickham Market and Saxmundham, a new Brandon by-pass, and a new Carlton Colville by-pass near Lowestoft.

In Ipswich the bid includes expanding the Tower Ramparts bus station, and improving access in the town centre for buses, cycles, and pedestrians.

That proposal is also backed by the borough council which is meeting later today to discuss the local transport plan.

That also backs the public transport improvements – but also wants a wet dock crossing and Waterfront "green route" to be included in the plan.

Those schemes were dismissed by county council Kevan Lim, who represents Ipswich town centre.

He said that the £95 million cost of a wet dock crossing was prohibitive and urged the councils to look for other alternatives.

The debates come after the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce wrote to both councils to express concerns at lack of action to tackle congestion problems in the waterfront area of the town.

But today's decisions are almost certainly not the end of the debate – the final submission for government money doesn't have to be submitted until July next year, after the next county council elections.

How do you think traffic in Ipswich should be tackled? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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