Ipswich MP hopeful of Orwell Bridge solutions in place ‘by next winter’

PUBLISHED: 16:31 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:59 22 January 2020

Closures of the Orwell Bridge have been much publicised in Suffolk. Picture: ARCHANT

Closures of the Orwell Bridge have been much publicised in Suffolk. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has said he is encouraged by plans to solve the town’s Orwell Bridge closure problems – and is hopeful some solutions will be in place before next winter.

Tom Hunt said he was buoyed by a meeting with Highways England. Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONSTom Hunt said he was buoyed by a meeting with Highways England. Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

Mr Hunt met with Highways England on Tuesday morning, where they discussed the soon-to-be-published Orwell Bridge aerodynamic study report.

While unable to reveal any of the report's details because of confidentiality clauses, he did confirm it contained recommendations both short term and long term.

READ MORE: Highways England launches Orwell Bridge study

He said: "I was pretty encouraged by the meeting.

"There are some short term solutions they have and long term solution they have as well.

"They seem to be pretty determined to try and do something, and hopefully do something that certainly by next winter we are not in a position to have to close the bridge to all vehicles in high winds."

He added: "I am determined to do what I can - I have tabled a parliamentary question last week.

"I want to be part of a positive story about things being delivered that improve people's lives."

Highways England is expected to present its report to Ipswich Borough Council's scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday next week.

The nine month aerodynamic study was carried out in partnership with City, University of London experts from October 2018, and included work assessing safe wind speeds for vehicles to cross the bridge, whether high-sided vehicles could be segregated and whether wind barriers could be added.

The report was due to be presented last Autumn, but has so far yet to materialise.

READ MORE: Highways England begins traffic-calming tests at Copdock

Estimated figures from Ipswich Central, which looks after business interests in the town, suggests that a bridge closure costs the town's economy £1million per day.

The town also becomes gridlocked with motorists reporting journeys just a handful of miles taking several hours.

While the details of the report are not yet clear, other recommendations could include measures around diversion routes, segregating traffic, more efficient traffic signals and diverting vehicles off the A14 sooner.

A recent spate of closures and delays on the A14 have also re-ignited questions about investment in junctions around Ipswich, with Copdock in particular a key pinch point where it meets the A12.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star