Ipswich: Is this the start of our road to Hell as months of roadworks start?

OVER the last week I’ve been hearing from more and more people about the difficulty in getting in and around Ipswich town centre.

Roadworks outside UCS caused real problems for traffic coming in from the east and the gas pipe work going on in the Fore Street/Upper Orwell Street area is also causing problems.

Things have eased slightly in Handford Road – but the other day something seemed to also cause problems in Norwich Road.

No one seemed to know what it was – just that every form of traffic was bunged up!

All these problems have attracted comment and concern – and may have made some people realise that it is true when we are told that actually compared with most similar-sized towns and cities Ipswich’s traffic normally flows pretty well.

But, and here’s the rub, the problems that we are seeing at the moment is just the prelude to what could be a really tough autumn and winter as work really gets under way with the “Ipswich fit for the 21st Century” programme.

This is a very necessary project helping to link up the town centre – and it will ultimately make it easier to get about.

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Without the arteries of the town would gradually get clogged up and five to ten years down the line we’d be asking “Why wasn’t anything done before we got into this state?”

But the fact is that while the work is being done, travelling around the town is going to be pretty miserable.

There will be lane closures. There will be diversions. Rush-hour journeys that currently take 15 minutes could take half an hour.

The worst problems will be caused by the reconstruction of the Princes Street/Civic Drive roundabout into a traffic light controlled junction.

That is due to start later this month. The work will be partially completed by November, when construction will be suspended over the Christmas period before re-starting early next year.

I do hope the work does not put off too many people from visiting the town centre, although it is bound to cause a great deal of irritation and possible anger.

It’s never easy to persuade people that the suffering they are undergoing is worthwhile in the end – but I suspect we should look on this as a �21 million heart by-pass operation for the town. The recovery will be painful, but worth all the suffering in the end.