Only ‘same few readers’ angry over TWO-YEAR delayed and controversial £21m Travel Ipswich scheme, chief claims

The work ongoing in the town centre as part of the Travel Ipswich scheme

The work ongoing in the town centre as part of the Travel Ipswich scheme - Credit: Contributed

The controversial £21million Travel Ipswich scheme, now due to finish TWO YEARS later than planned, has only angered a small minority, it is claimed.

And now the new highways chief has called on those who have criticised the Suffolk County Council project aimed at improving town centre traffic to be “realists”.

The revamp started in summer 2012 and was due to finish in April 2014. But the final stages, including work at Major’s Corner, St Helen’s Street and Queen Street, will not be completed until next spring.

Readers have frequently hit out at the “disaster” project. One wrote: “The whole idea of this idiotic scheme is to make Ipswich impossible to travel around.” Another branded it an “incredible waste of money”.

But in his notes for this week’s full meeting of the county council, cabinet member for transport James Finch claims: “There has been much criticism levelled at the Travel Ipswich Project in the local press, although the majority of adverse comments are sent in by the same few readers, yet it has already achieved a number of its stated objectives.”

Asked by the Star to clarify his remarks over “the same few readers”, he said: “As I have explained before, the budget for Travel Ipswich is now spent. There are still more projects to be do; the Nacton Road project will restart after Christmas and the other two will start in March. There is nothing more I can add.”

When pressed, Mr Finch, who took over from Graham Newman in May, added: “The other issue which needs explanation, which again I have explained several times, is the UTMC (computer controlled urban traffic management and control system). They are being developed.

“These things actually require live data on traffic movements, and as they collect that, those traffic lights will automatically adjust to traffic flows at various times of the day. But they need to gather that real data so they can correct themselves.

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“In Colchester, for example, the Intercity station by the traffic lights was installed four or five years ago and took at least six months to settle down. They now work very well.

“(Travel Ipswich) was a very ambitious schedule. Over £21m is a lot of money and they have tried to make sure things are done properly.

“I’m never happy (with the schedule) and one always wants things done quicker. But at the end of the day we have got to be realists.”

Council chiefs insist the Travel Ipswich project will improve travel around the town centre for motorists, pedestrians, buses and taxies amid a planned 15% traffic increase by 2021.

Under the UTMC system, traffic can be managed in real-time and during roadworks. It will coordinate traffic signals, reduce congestion, smooth traffic flow, and give late-running buses priority at junctions. There are also new pedestrian crossings, refurbished bus stations and improved walking and cycling facilities.

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