'Glad to finally see progress' - MP visits Orwell Bridge speed limit works
- Credit: Tom Hunt MP
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he was "glad to finally see some real progress being made" as he visited works being carried out to reduce frustrating Orwell Bridge closures due to high winds.
At the moment, the bridge - which 60,000 vehicles travel across every day - has to close when there are gusts of 50mph or more, causing huge delays to drivers and costing Ipswich's economy £1million a day when it is closed.
After years of campaigning, Highways England - which manages the road - is finally installing a new £1.7m system which will see 18 electronic speed signs and two average speed cameras enforcing temporary 40mph speed limits when winds are high.
A year-long aerodynamic study of the bridge by City University of London showed this would greatly reduce the bridge closures.
After visiting the Orwell Bridge to see the works on Friday, Mr Hunt said: "I have pushed consistently for work to be completed as quickly as possible to ensure minimal disruption to Ipswich, which loses around £1m a day when the Bridge is shut due to high winds.
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"In my visit on Friday, I reiterated my desire to see any time saving measures implemented to ensure that the bridge problem is solved sooner rather than later.
"I am glad to finally see some real progress being made.
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"The closures of Orwell Bridge have really affected the quality of our transport connection and congestion of our town for so long.
"It was one of my top priorities when I was elected and I have consistently brought up the issue in the House of Commons, including leading the adjournment debate on the Orwell Bridge in December 2020.
"I know that all residents of Ipswich will be glad to see the back of this Orwell Bridge problem and I look forward to seeing the works completed."
Martin Fellows, Highways England regional director, said: “The Orwell Bridge is vitally important for people living and working in Ipswich and for the businesses that depend on goods arriving and leaving the UK at the port of Felixstowe.
“It was a pleasure to welcome Mr Hunt onto site so that I could show him first-hand the work we’re undertaking to the bridge to help keep it open more often during high winds and storms.
"I hope he shares my excitement in the benefits this work will soon bring to people and businesses once complete next month.”
Work to install the new communication was being carried out with temporary speed limits overnight to minimise disruption to drivers.
However, Highways England says motorists were ignoring the temporary speed limits and that it had no choice but to enforce overnight closures lasting until mid-March, to protect workers' safety.
Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey attacked the "selfish behaviour of some HGV drivers not keeping to the speed limit for safe roadworks".