Orwell Bridge expected to be open on Thursday after wind fears ease

The Orwell Bridge in Ipswich is now expected to remain open on Thursday. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Orwell Bridge in Ipswich is now expected to remain open on Thursday. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The Orwell Bridge is now expected to remain open on Thursday after the threat of high winds overnight eased.

However drivers are being advised to be very careful during tomorrow’s rush-hour – especially those driving high-sided vehicles.

UPDATE: Highways England said on Thursday morning there was an increased possibility of closure.

The news came from Highways England on Wednesday afternoon after a series of meetings to discuss the latest advice from the Met Office.

On Tuesday Highways England had warned that the bridge was likely to be shut from midnight on Wednesday to lunchtime on Thursday because of the threat of 60mph winds.

During Wednesday the Met Office said the threat of high winds was confined to 3am to 9am on Thursday – and the maximum gusts might not be as great as originally expected.

Highways England met to discuss the situation on Wednesday lunchtime and later announced they expect the bridge to stay open. It is understood to have been a very fine decision and highway engineers will be studying weather reports throughout the night and be prepared to close the A14 if necessary.

A spokesman for the agency said: “Highways England will continue to monitor wind speeds closely and will make any decision about whether to close the bridge based on the safety of road users.

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“Weather warnings have been issued for the region with the storm due to travel from west to east. Orwell Bridge usually closes when wind speeds hit 50mph as a cross wind, or 60mph for east/west winds.”

Drivers planning to travel on Orwell Bridge were being encouraged to plan their journey in advance and check the latest weather and traffic conditions along the route.

The agency said drivers should be aware of sudden gusts of wind, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space.

Meanwhile park rangers and managers in Ipswich will be checking the town’s parks at the start of the day to decide whether they can open as normal.

The borough had planned to keep them closed until the storm had blown through, but after the warnings eased they decided to wait and seen what the situation is before making a decision.

In any event it is hoped that the parks should be able to open by mid-morning when the storm is expected to have blown through.