New moves to end stack nightmare

RADICAL changes are today being suggested to deal with the hundreds of lorries which gridlock the A14 when Britain's biggest port is closed because of strong winds.

RADICAL changes are today being suggested to deal with the hundreds of lorries which gridlock the A14 when Britain's biggest port is closed because of strong winds.

Fears have been voiced about the difficulties emergency services would face reaching Felixstowe if there was a major medical incident or fire, or chemical spillage or accident at the port.

Residents are also caught up in delays of more than an hour as they try to reach home and business.

Councillor Andy Smith is asking the town council to back changes to Operation Stack - the system of parking trucks on the A14 - because of the “wholly unacceptable” congestion and disruption it causes to the life of the town.

He wants a redesign of the stacking procedure, and better management on the ground by police and Highways Agency officials, even if the port has to pay for extra police to do it.

At present, when winds reach 35mph and it is too dangerous for quayside cranes to work, as many lorries as possible are parked in the port complex, and then in the outside lane of the A14 Port of Felixstowe Road, between dock spur roundabout and dock gate one.

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At peak times this creates tailbacks to Trimley interchange - forcing cars to go through the villages.

Mr Smith believes more areas on the port should be used, and then lorries should be parked on the old A45 at Levington, directed off the A14 at Trimley and sent back to park, later able to rejoin the A14 at Seven Hills when the port re-opens.

They could be parked in both directions with the final stage being to use the A14 dock spur.

“The public needs to be assured that the Port of Felixstowe are making the fullest possible use of the very large areas of land within the port, including using areas which may in normal operation not be available to HGVs, including container stacking and quayside areas,” he said.

The Highways Agency would need to be committed to signing to direct truckers.

“It will also be necessary, and is the crucial element required, for the police to accept a commitment to provide management of the traffic on the ground,” said Mr Smith.

“On the A14 itself, any HGVs causing obstruction by queuing in two lanes should be warned then prosecuted for obstruction.

“”It may be necessary for funding, particularly police resources, to be funded by arrangements with the port.”

The ideas will be put to the council on Wednesday

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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