Orwell Bridge debate in Parliament secured as Highways England reveals plan for new year night works

The Orwell Bridge measures are to be discussed in Parliament in December. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The Orwell Bridge measures are to be discussed in Parliament in December. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Issues around the closure of the Orwell Bridge in high winds are set to be discussed in Parliament next week, after Ipswich MP Tom Hunt secured a debate.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has secured an adjournment debate on the Orwell Bridge in Parliament. Picture: PARLIAMENT LIVE TV

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has secured an adjournment debate on the Orwell Bridge in Parliament. Picture: PARLIAMENT LIVE TV - Credit: Archant

Mr Hunt will raise the matter during Thursday afternoon’s adjournment debate in the House of Commons, highlighting the importance of a solution being delivered and the urgency in which measures should be carried out.

Highways England is working on a 40mph speed limit on the bridge during high winds, which will increase the threshold for closure from 50mph up to 70mph.

MORE: Long-awaited measures to tackle Orwell Bridge closures unveiledThat was supposed to be ready in time for this winter, but Highways England confirmed it was now looking at completion for that in March. Some of those delays have been as a result of more advanced speed cameras being used than originally planned, the authority said.

Mr Hunt said: “The Orwell Bridge closures cause massive disruption for Ipswich residents, particularly over the winter period when it is windiest, and it’s right the issue now has specific time set aside in Parliament for it to be debated.

Wind closures of the Orwell Bridge results in snared up traffic around Ipswich as vehicles divert through the town. Picture:...

Wind closures of the Orwell Bridge results in snared up traffic around Ipswich as vehicles divert through the town. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Highways England are currently talking about the end of March for getting this speed limit in place, but given how long Ipswich residents have had to wait for this, and given the promises that have previously been made about it being in place before this winter, Highways England need to display more ambition and urgency.”

Mr Hunt met with roads minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton on Tuesday to highlight how crucial the measures were – particularly given its importance in allowing freight traffic to travel unhindered to and from the Port of Felixstowe.


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On Thursday night, Highways England gave an update on the scheme to Ipswich Borough Council’s scrutiny committee meeting in which it was confirmed that the traffic order was out for consultation and road signs had been ordered.

Additional wind tunnel work to validate the modelling has also confirmed the 40mph speed limits are viable.

MORE: Orwell Bridge wind measures pushed back to spring 2021Simon Amor, head of planning and development at Highways England, said work on the bridge itself will start early in the new year, and likely to take between six and eight weeks to complete, mostly with overnight working.

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He added: “When we first introduce the scheme we may operate it relatively conservatively and as we learn more about it we may be able to expand the tolerances and may be able to operate it in even stronger winds.

“The scheme doesn’t mean we will keep it open in all winds – there will still be winds of certain strengths or certain directions when we will have to close the bridge but hopefully we can keep it open a lot more frequently than we can at the moment.”

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