Are Ipswich’s new river crossings doomed? What will that mean for the town?
- Credit: Archant
The Upper Orwell Crossings project has been suspended by Suffolk County Council pending a review – but what questions will the independent experts be asking about the project?
What is the cost likely to be?
The project was costed at £97m in 2015 when first proposed – but there have been delays in pushing forward with it. The county accepts costs have now gone up, possibly to as much as £120m at current prices.
And the project is not due to be finished until 2023. What will the final cost be in five years’ time? Some have said it could be as much as £150m although this is thought to be “extreme top end” by the council.
The original deal was for the government to fund £77m and the county council £20m, but central government has indicated it is unlikely to increase its contribution. Could the county justify seeing its contribution go up from £20m to £60m or £70m?
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Would it be possible to build just the smaller bridges to allow the development of the “Island Site” and leave the major bridge?
The issue here is there is no firm masterplan for the Island Site – just an aspiration to develop it as an “Enterprise Island.”
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There is also an argument that any investment like new bridges to enable that development should be made by the site’s owners Associated British Ports.
Would cancellation lead to more traffic congestion?
Yes – congestion will increase as long as there are more vehicles on the road. One spin-off from the new bridge would have been the opportunity to remodel the Star Lane Gyratory to link the town centre with the Waterfront.
But this was always considered a difficult project to implement because it would involve reducing the number of lanes for traffic around the traditional dock area of the town and would encounter resistance from motorists.
If the crossings don’t go ahead, can the £77m from the government be transferred to a new northern route for the town?
No. Not directly. It would go back into the central government “pot.”
Any bid for central government money for a new northern relief road across Ipswich would have to be made separately and be justified on its own merits – almost certainly by opening up new areas of land for development.