Ipswich: Highways Agency shows it is unfit for purpose

WHAT is the point of the Highways Agency? Its haplessness reached new heights when its dithering left Ipswich gridlocked for the best part of two days last week.

And coming just 24 hours after the spectacular DTp foul-up over the West Coast rail franchise was confirmed, it did nothing to enhance my impression of transport sector bureaucrats.

Luckily I wasn’t at work last week so I didn’t have to do battle with the traffic. But what on earth was the HA thinking of?

It was pretty lamentable that it took so long to clear a load of onions off the A14 – how many forms did they have to fill in at their Bedford headquarters to authorise someone to get to work? It should not have taken six hours!

But their action (or lack of it) after the second accident was truly disgraceful.


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It happened at 3pm on Wednesday. There were injuries, but no one was killed. And yet it took the HA 18 hours to get engineers out to repair the road.

They then took a further six hours to repair the road, which is understandable, but why was the team not alerted the minute the accident happened?

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Why were they not on the scene waiting for the police to finish their investigation? Why didn’t they start working immediately and get the road repaired overnight and ready for Thursday’s rush hour?

What is so annoying about this is that it’s all happened before. We’ve had assurances from the HA before that they would learn from their mistakes – and would speed things up.

But as soon as something goes wrong they’re caught like a startled rabbit in headlights – and prove that when it comes to keeping the roads flowing they’re about as useful as a glass tyre!

There will be occasional accidents on a busy road like the A14. That is a fact of life we have to accept – and when it happens we have to face disruption.

What we do not have to accept is the delay in dealing with such accidents that we see time after time with the Highways Agency – frankly it’s time that the whole organisation was given a total shake-up to ensure it keeps the traffic moving.

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