Give our transport scheme a chance!

THIS is a personal column and does not necessarily always reflect the views of the newspaper.

And on one hot topic around town I know I’m at odds with probably the majority of our readers and many of my colleagues – I think the county and borough are doing the right thing in tackling traffic around town.

After reading – and writing – about the Ipswich Fit for the 21st Century project and the changes being made to the Duke Street junction, I think the town is going in the right direction.

People are naturally suspicious of change – but change is happening all the time and unless we take that into account then everything will grind to a halt.

The road network in Ipswich was originally laid out in the middle ages when the fastest vehicle was a horse and cart.

That evolved during the centuries until we reached the 1960s and there were major changes. I wasn’t around when Civic Drive was created but I know there were objections to the changes.

And certainly when the roads around the docks were remodelled 20 years later it was not without controversy.

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While we can argue about the value of the homes that were swept away when these roads were built, I’m sure few drivers in the 21st century would want to have to negotiate the tiny streets that were consigned to history.

That is my point about the new Ipswich Fit for the 21st Century scheme. It is easy to look at it and pick holes in the proposal. And it will be difficult getting around the town while the work is under way.

I’m already trying to work out how to get to the office without going anywhere near the Princes Street roundabout!

But we cannot just stick our head in the sand and say: “Any change will be dreadful.”

Traffic lights are not wonderful – but if they are properly programmed to “talk” to each other they can keep traffic moving well and ensure there are not massive hold-ups at pinch-points.

I’m even starting to like what has happened at Duke Street.

The roundabout was a dangerous anachronism at a time when traffic around the Waterfront is increasing.

I know the new road layout causes inconvenience for some road users – and you will always get someone who loses out when roads are changed – but for the vast majority of drivers the new layout will be an improvement.

So looking ahead to Ipswich Fit for the 21st Century. Yes, it is expensive at about �25 million – but given the current government’s desire to save costs I think we can be pretty sure the accountants have been through it with a fine toothcomb and decided it does represent good value for money.

I don’t think it will solve all traffic problems – but I like the look and the sound of the moves to improve the town centre.