Government to provide funding for new Ipswich river crossing

The Wet Dock Island Site with the site for the proposed new link at the top of the picture, just abo

The Wet Dock Island Site with the site for the proposed new link at the top of the picture, just above the lock gates. Picture by - Credit: Archant

The government is to fund a new crossing over the River Orwell near the entrance to Ipswich’s Wet Dock.

The overall cost of the bridge that could open to allow ships to pass could be as high as £90-£100m once inflation is taken into account, and most of the cost will come from the central government.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer used his budget speech in the House of Commons to confirm that new bridges in both Ipswich and Lowestoft will go ahead.

Both have been estimated to cost a similar amount and the Government is to make £151m available to be shared between the two projects.

The Lowestoft bridge was confirmed by Prime Minister David Cameron during a visit to the Felixstowe on Tuesday.

The announcement means that work can now get underway with planning an exact route for the new road from Cliff Quay to the west bank of the Orwell, probably linking into the Hawes Street/Wherstead Road roundabout.

A survey published at the end of last year estimated that a new bridge would cut more than 25% off cross-town journey times during the town’s rush hours.

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It would particularly ease the pressure around the Star Lane area.

The report put the cost of the scheme at £81m at 2015 prices – but said its value to the local economy would be £524m in terms of improved productivity.

It is hoped that work on the project should be able to start within the next two years and the new road could be completed by 2020.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer led the calls for the project to go ahead – which would include a new bridge over the New Cut from Felaw Street to open up the island site.

He said today: “This is an absolutely fantastic day for Ipswich. It is the single most important piece of new infrastructure that the town needs at the moment.

“It will link the town better, release development land for jobs and prosperity in the centre of the town and help us to re-stitch the waterfront to the town centre.

“I firmly believe that we have begun something every special in Ipswich: this bridge will show the world that the renaissance of our town has begun and will help us reach the ambitions that we all know that we can achieve.”

Borough council leader David Ellesmere also welcomed the news: “This is another big investment in Ipswich which shows that our plans for the town are being taken seriously at a national level.

“It would be good to see construction start on of the relatively small-scale works to open up the island site as soon as possible while the detailed design and public consultation around the much more ambitious bridge is undertaken.

“This will enable us to gain the maximum benefit from the Enterprise Zone status we have gained for the island site, bringing new businesses and jobs to Ipswich.”