Fears A14 will face gridlock by 2012

ROAD experts have today predicted a Domesday scenario could hit Suffolk's major road within just five years.Already blighted by closures that cause hours of delays to motorists, predictions now show that the A14 could reach gridlock by 2012.

ROAD experts have today predicted a Domesday scenario could hit Suffolk's major road within just five years.

Already blighted by closures that cause hours of delays to motorists, predictions now show that the A14 could reach gridlock by 2012.

Closed for more than 350 hours in the past two years because of crashes on the dual carriageway a new report has revealed that extra traffic - including visitors to SnOasis if it gets the go-ahead and one million more lorries when Felixstowe port expands - will create the possibility of more accidents and disruption,

Commissioned by the Highways Agency and councils, the report states that urgent solutions are being sought.


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However experts concede the best - a northern by-pass for Ipswich - will not arrive in time and may not happen for another 20 years.

Other ideas include new railway stations at Martlesham and SnOasis, bus improvements and even a new way of crossing the River Orwell, either by bridge or tunnel.

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Last week there was a fresh reminder of the chaos that can ensue following an accident when the A14 was closed at Wherstead and Barham when a lorry and a van overturned forcing traffic through Ipswich town centre causing hours of delays.

Guy McGregor, county council roads and transport portfolio holder, said: “We have serious concerns about the situation and 2012, the point of maximum capacity, is not far away.

“The main stretch affected is the A12/14 including the Orwell Bridge and that particular area is of national importance and European importance.”

He added a northern bypass would be cost effective and said he hoped government would bid for and try to attract the European funding which is available for such projects.”

Mr McGregor has already met with some businesses concerned at the worsening situation, including bosses at shipping firm Medite, while talks are also taking place with GO-East, the government's regional office.

A spokesman for Felixstowe-based Deben Transport said the A14 was clogged every morning in rush-hour.

He said: “For example, the Ransomes Europark industrial estate has grown from nothing to a huge complex and every day now there are queues with people trying to get in there to get to work - that area used to be like that two days a year for the Suffolk Show and now it's virtually every day.

“Building a new road might not be the best solution - better management of the existing road is what is needed, improvements to sliproads, policing at peak times. The Orwell Bridge was the last improvement we had and Felixstowe port has grown unimaginably since then and is set to grow again.”

Do you think it's time for a northern bypass for Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: A14

The A14's maximum capacity is about 2,000 vehicles per hour per lane - 4,000 per hour per carriageway. At present it is between 2,750 and 3,200 vehicles on the Orwell Bridge per carriageway at peak times.

However, highways chiefs say traffic flows over approximately 1,800 vehicles per hour per lane would be unstable and would be liable to random queuing. Such a situation happens on many major roads, including the A14 around Cambridge.

The figures refer to peak times and there would be quieter periods, too. About 30,000 vehicles a day use the A14 around Ipswich at present.

Highways experts say the extra traffic from the Port expansion will not be enough to tip the balance, but the huge growth in car ownership, increase in population and visitors, will push it to maximum capacity by 2012.

The A14 and A12 have been closed for more than 350 hours in the past two years, mainly due to accidents involving lorries, which are often serious and take time to clear up.

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