If the northern bypass is shelved, what needs to happen in Ipswich?
PUBLISHED: 07:30 29 January 2020
The northern bypass debate has divided opinion, but one thing most would agree on is that something must be done to improve traffic in Ipswich - but what?
The town's traffic is at its worst when the Orwell Bridge is closed in high winds.
So it is essential Highways England produces solutions as to how it can keep traffic moving. It has suggested single file traffic and slower speed limits to prevent bridge closures, but no plans for trials have been announced.
Ipswich Vision chairman Terry Hunt said action was needed. He said: "There needs to be a package of improvements - first and foremost of these clearly has to be Highways England coming up with ways of ensuring that the Orwell Bridge only closes an absolute minimum number of times and only when 100% necessary."
READ MORE: Norther bypass consultation results
Improvements to key junctions of the A14 would go a long way to improving journeys. The county is waiting to hear whether the Government will fund a package of measures, including work to improve Copdock Mill.
Motorists in Ipswich will be familiar with some of the town centre's problem spots - the Star Lane one-way system, Novotel roundabout and Norwich Road among the pinch points.
If a northern route isn't pursued, pressure will certainly mount on the county council to come up with new ideas on how to reconfigure certain junctions.
READ MORE: Two councils withdraw Ipswich northern bypass support
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There can be no doubt more must be done to encourage people to use public transport, but currently the incentives are not in place.
Andrew Stringer from the county council's Green group said: "We need a fit for purpose rail infrastructure in this county. People have spotted that building more roads brings more traffic, not solving anything.
"We meed to travel better, not travel more."
Buses can be an option for many in and around the town, but are still reliant on the same congested road network.
For many, cycling is not a palatable option when there are few designated cycle routes, and for less-confident cyclists the idea of competing with rush hour traffic is particularly unappealing.
However, the county council has a task force working to establish better cycling provision across the county.
Many who live in the town centre already walk to and from work, but more must be done to encourage those who still drive, where possible, to make that change.
Working from home and flexi-working
Many offices are embracing working from home, and an increased drive to help employees work from home will undoubtedly ease the number of motorists on the road.
But as well as working from home, more businesses should consider offering flexi-working so that employees do not necessarily need to travel on the road at peak times.
Terry Baxter, chairman of Ipswich Central, which looks after business interests in the town, said: "For some, home working is undoubtedly practical, but if you run a business on the high street it's different, and it's really important we don't lose focus on the value of town centres, and that's about interaction. We need people to be able to get in and out of town efficiently."