New hopes of keeping road clear

WORK is almost complete on a new site for a mobile messaging machine which highways chiefs hope will reduce problems with lorries when Felixstowe port is closed in bad weather.

WORK is almost complete on a new site for a mobile messaging machine which highways chiefs hope will reduce problems with lorries when Felixstowe port is closed in bad weather.

Officials are hoping the variable messaging sign just before the Trimley interchange will give drivers early warning to move into the outside lane to queue to avoid causing disruption to other traffic, or to turn off and park-up elsewhere.

There has been growing concern at the way Operation Stack - the system for handling trucks when strong winds close the port - is run because of the chaos it causes.

Last month it blocked both lanes of the A14 from Trimley to the port, forcing people to go through the twin Trimley villages, leading to hour-long delays.

Residents have voiced fears it could prevent emergency vehicles reaching incidents if there was a major medical incident or fire, or chemical spillage or accident at the port.

The Highways Agency hopes the new sign will help and says it will also be using signs further back on the A14 at Risby and on the A1 to give early warning to truckers.

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“Once the work is completed, the Highways Agency will be able to deploy mobile VMS to this location. The signs will be used to keep drivers informed over driving conditions, roadworks or incidents on the network,” said a spokeswoman.

Felixstowe Town Council is to debate Operation Stack tomorrow and is being urged to call for radical changes.

Councillor Andy Smith, who has described as “wholly unacceptable” the congestion and disruption Operation Stack causes to the life of the town, has suggested the old A45 at Levington should be used first to park lorries waiting for the port to re-open rather than the last place.

He said the old road could take two stacks - not in both directions, but parallel, so when the port re-opens they can be directed back onto the A14 via Seven Hills. This may require a partial closure of the old A45, due to the then restricted carriageway width.

The lorries would be directed to the parking area via the Trimley interchange back onto the A14 westbound and then to Levington.

Mr Smith also believes more areas on the port should be used for parking, and the Highways Agency and police should take a more hands-on role, even if the port has to pay for extra police.

Do you think Operation Stack needs changes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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