Tom Hunt seeks backing from minister over new Orwell Bridge speed limit

PUBLISHED: 11:31 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:51 18 June 2020

The changes could allow traffic to continue using the Orwell Bridge when there are high winds.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The changes could allow traffic to continue using the Orwell Bridge when there are high winds. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has asked for international trade secretary Elizabeth Truss’ support over changes to the Orwell Bridge, to reduce the risk of closures in high winds.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hunt said the bridge was a vital link for Britain’s international trade through Felixstowe and said that when it is closed, it damages the UK economy as a whole.

During a statement on post-Brexit deals, Ms Truss set out the UK’s plans to strike free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, as well as the UK’s intention to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership – a club of 11 Pacific rim countries which together represent 13% of global GDP.

In response, Mr Hunt stressed how East Anglia and its ports like Felixstowe had an important role if the UK to realise these ambitious plans. However, he East Anglia’s potential wouldn’t be fully exploited until closures of the Orwell Bridge don’t bring traffic to a halt when it is windy.

MORE: Highways England plans 40mph limit on Orwell bridge in high winds

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Highways England announced earlier this year that it is planning trials of 40mph speed limits during high winds.

Mr Hunt said: “Following my meeting with Highways England earlier this month, I asked the secretary of state for international trade to work with Highways England to implement their plan to end closures of the Orwell Bridge by the end of this year.

“With the Port of Felixstowe, East Anglia should be at the heart of our country’s ambitious trade plans but that potential won’t be fully realised until road freight and our town aren’t brought to a standstill when it’s windy.

“This issue deserves national attention and I hope the Secretary of State will recognise the national significance of getting the 40mph speed limit solution in place as soon as possible and pull all necessary strings to ensure that happens.”

MORE: Will lockdown delay Orwell Bridge changes?

Mr Hunt said he had remained in touch with Highways England throughout the lockdown, but said they are awaiting the results of some tests that were being undertaken by City University in London.

But they required using a wind tunnel – and the university’s facilities had been closed during lockdown so the final work could not be completed. He hoped this would now be able to be finished so new speed limits could be introduced in the autumn to reduce the number of bridge closures in high wind.

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