County shows off route for proposed Ipswich Upper Orwell Crossings
PUBLISHED: 18:00 26 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:45 27 February 2018
The possible alignments for the new Upper Orwell Crossings in Ipswich have been published - including a long opening bridge between Wherstead Road and Landseer Road.
The largest new bridge, about 600 metres long, would have approaches from the Rapier Street roundabout between Hawes Street and Wherstead Road on the west and a new roundabout on Holywells Road near the Cliff Lane junction to the west of the River Orwell.
The second new bridge would go across the New Cut from the Felaw Maltings on to the Island Site – which is due to become a new technology area for the town – although it is not yet decided whether this would be fixed or a swing or bascule bridge.
The third crossing is a reconstruction of an existing footpath and cycleway over the Wet Dock lock gates.
The exact design of the bridges has not yet been decided, although internationally-renowned architect Foster+Partners won a design competition to design them.
The alignments will be on display at an information day at Dance East on the Ipswich Waterfront between noon and 7pm next Tuesday.
People can go along and find out about the plans – and give their views to councillors and officials.
Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Ipswich, said: “A lot of work was needed to find an alignment that minimises the impact of the bridge on land, property and access before this announcement could be made.
“I’m very pleased we can now share this information and I and the team look forward to talking with people about it, and the public information day on 6 March will provide a great opportunity to do so.”
He said the main question that was asked at every meeting he attended was “Where will the crossings go.”
No homes would be lost by the new road, although some business premises could be lost.
The main bridge will have a opening in the middle, but it would be 18 metres clear of the River Orwell on a Mean High Water Spring Tide – which is enough clearance for the overall majority of vessels heading for the wet dock.
The government has granted £77m towards the £100m that the crossings are expected to cost – which is expected to generate £600m for the local economy.
Where are we with the Upper Orwell Crossings?
The Upper Orwell Crossings were first announced by former Chancellor George Osborne before the 2015 General Election – and the money for them was confirmed in his 2016 budget.
The government is paying three quarters of the cost – £77m out of the total £100m budget – with the rest coming from Suffolk County Council funds. The council is managing the project.
Testing of the ground for the bridge started last year and the alignment has now been published. The design of the new bridge is expected to be unveiled in the summer and will then go to public consultation in the autumn.
Final details of the bridges are due to be published early next year and they will then go through the planning process.
The council is hoping all the planning hurdles will be crossed during 2019 allowing work to start on the bridges in 2020. They hope to have completed the project by 2023.
Crossings should boost Ipswich economy
The Upper Orwell Crossings should have a double benefit for Ipswich according to the government and county council.
They should ease the traffic around the town centre, especially the notorious Star Lane Gyratory System which is used by many vehicles crossing the river at Stoke Bridge.
But the crucial point from the government’s point of view was that they would open up the Island Site for development –bringing in millions of pounds in business investment. Without all the bridges this would be unsustainable because traffic to and from the site would be restricted.
However the scheme is not without its critics who argue that a northern by-pass would be more effective in easing traffic around the town.
New Ipswich MP Sandy Martin is among those unconvinced by the benefits of the Upper Orwell Crossings – but the government and county council remain committed to the scheme.