New £100m wet dock bridge could boost Ipswich’s economy

The site of the proposed new swing bridge.

The site of the proposed new swing bridge. - Credit: Archant

A new £100m Wet Dock crossing would give Ipswich town centre a boost worth many times that sum according to an official feasibility report published today.

A map showing the proposed route of the new bridge

A map showing the proposed route of the new bridge - Credit: Archant

But the main road link would miss the Island Site – the regeneration of which was the main catalyst for the proposal.

Instead the Island site would be opened by a separate road bridge extension from Felaw Street – with a footpath/cycleway over the lock gates linking it to Cliff Quay.

The report was prepared by consultants WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff for Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership in a bid to encourage the Chancellor to give the go-ahead for the project in his budget in March.

There are two options proposed.

Option A would take traffic across the Island site with a double swing bridge over both ends of the lock gates into the wet dock and a separate bridge over the New Cut.

Option B, the preferred option, would see the construction of a swing bridge to the south of the Island Site linking roads from the east and west banks, and creating the smaller bridge on to the Island Site.

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The preferred option has been priced at £88m at 2015 prices – but this is likely to rise to £99m in 2021 when the link is due to open to traffic.

Option B is more expensive than Option A, but the report says it would enable much more land to be developed and it would take much more traffic off the congested Star Lane area of the town.

It would also be a far better “safety valve” for the town when the Orwell Bridge is closed because of an accident.

The original point of the Wet Dock crossing, which has been heavily promoted by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, was to open up the Island Site for development as “Enterprise Island” with high-tech units linked to UCS created there.

Mr Gummer said it became clear that it would not be really practical to put the link across the Island site, but the new bridge linking in from Felaw Street and the footpath/cycleway would provide good connectivity for the site.

He said: “The submission of this business case is a major milestone in the delivery of the project.

“I am confident that this submission will demonstrate to the Chancellor the extraordinary benefits that investment in a Wet Dock Crossing will have in creating good jobs, unlocking enterprise land and alleviating congestion in our town.”

The support of the LEP is vital in trying to secure the major investment in the project.

LEP Chairman Mark Pendlington said: “New Anglia LEP and Suffolk County Council have a delivered robust and compelling business case which clearly sets out the return on investment in a Wet Dock Crossing.

“The investment will have a major impact in driving forward enterprise and business growth in Ipswich and the surrounding area and we look forward to receiving the government’s feedback in April.”