Minister promises a new design for notorious Copdock Mill junction

PUBLISHED: 20:00 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:25 16 January 2018

Could the Copdock Mill Interchange be rebuilt? Picture: MIKE PAGE

Could the Copdock Mill Interchange be rebuilt? Picture: MIKE PAGE

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said it is “inconceivable” that the Copdock Mill interchange between the A14 and A12 south of Ipswich will not be rebuilt over the medium term.

Its reconstruction to provide an easy link between Suffolk’s two busiest roads is a key demand of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s “No More Delays on the A14” campaign.

And Mr Grayling seemed to back their calls during a visit to Suffolk.

When asked about that junction, the Secretary of State said: “Highways England is still drawing up its programme for the next few years – and much of its current effort is concentrated on the major rebuilding of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

“But I know the Copdock Mill interchange and I know the bottleneck it proves to be for traffic on an almost daily basis. It is inconceivable that it would not be rebuilt to keep traffic moving better.”

Highways England is currently drawing up its second Route Improvement Strategy (RIS2) covering major projects it would like to see carried out between 2020 and 2025.

The “No More Delays” campaign is pressing for major improvements to seven junctions on the A14 in Suffolk to be included in RIS2 – but the Copdock Mill is the largest single challenge.

Designing a new junction that would allow traffic to move between the A12 and A14 without stopping – and provide a link into Ipswich – would be very challenging and very expensive. It has been said that would cost more than an entire northern by-pass for the town, well over £150m. And the roadworks could take well over a year.

Suffolk Chamber policy director Nick Burfield said the comments by Mr Grayling were, while stopping short of an official promise, hopeful for the future.

He said: “It is certainly encouraging that he is aware of the issues. We are campaigning for seven junction improvements but we are aware Copdock Mill is the ‘big one’ in terms of cost – but if Highways England wants to turn the A14 into an expressway it will have to be improved.”

Mr Burfield said there had been some initial proposals drawn up for an amended Copdock Mill junction design: “It would be a challenge but it is not impossible,” he said.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge also welcomed Mr Grayling’s comments: “When we get together as Suffolk MPs to lobby for improvements to the A14 we are looking at a number of places where investment is needed.

“But there is an acceptance that the largest single issue is Copdock Mill and from this it seems as if that message has got through – that is fantastic news and I hope it means things will happen there.”

Copdock Interchange a bottleneck for drivers for more than three decades

Copdock Mill interchange opened for traffic in December 1982 – at the same time as the Orwell Bridge – but for the first two and a half years there was no westbound link.

The western section of the by-pass from Copdock to Claydon did not open until 1985.

As well as being the junction for the A12 and A14 it is also the junction for the busiest road into Ipswich town centre, the A1214 – and after only a few years it became a regular bottleneck.

It was also an accident blackspot and measures to make it safer slowed traffic down and made it more of an obstacle to traffic movement.

In 2011 traffic lights were installed at all the entrances and exits to the roundabout – and while these did cut the number of accidents it means there are queues at all entrances to the junction around the clock and especially during rush hours. This has led to increased rat-running through nearby villages and Ipswich estates.

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