Orwell crossing bridge work still on schedule as ground testing continues

The bridge over the New Cut to the island site with the main bridge in the background. The designs a

The bridge over the New Cut to the island site with the main bridge in the background. The designs are from Foster + Partners. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble has insisted that work to build a new bridge across the River Orwell near Ipswich town centre remains on schedule.

Initially there should have been further consultation on a route between the west bank and Cliff Quay during this autumn, but that has not yet happened.

However Mr Noble said there was no delay – testing of the soil for possible routes was continuing and it was always known that this could be a long process.

He said: “Everything is progressing as planned. We always knew the testing could take some time – you cannot know before you start how long it will take.

“But it is not delaying any of the process – and the finance for the crossings is all in place.”

There will be three new crossings. As well as the main road bridge across the river there will also be a shorter bridge from the West Bank to the Island Site and a new pedestrian/cyclist bridge over the lock gates linking the Island to the east bank near the University of Suffolk.

Foster + Partners won a design competition for the new bridges which were unveiled earlier in the year. The scheme will cost about £100m and is due to be completed during 2021/22 at the earliest.

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Most of the funding is coming from central government and was confirmed last year. The rest is coming from Suffolk County Council and other sources accessed by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Local borough councillor – and former Ipswich council leader – Liz Harsant said many local people were concerned that the project did seem to have run out of steam.

She said: “I was told the consultation had been put back a year and people living near the route are worried about what is – or isn’t – happening.

“I am not against the proposal but it does seem to be taking an awful long time to be getting anywhere.”

As well as relieving traffic in the town centre – particularly around the Star Lane system – the new bridges are also expected to open up the Island Site to business development.

It is estimated that the £100m cost of the new crossings will bring financial benefits of up to £600m to that part of Ipswich waterfront – and more to the town centre as a whole.