Peninsula paralysed by lorries
PARALYSED. That was the Felixstowe area today as thousands of frustrated motorists were left fuming.They were caught up in gridlock caused by another blunder to provide for the truckers trying to get into Britain's biggest container port.
PARALYSED. That was the Felixstowe area today as thousands of frustrated motorists were left fuming.
They were caught up in gridlock caused by another blunder to provide for the truckers trying to get into Britain's biggest container port.
It was a nightmare as people trying to get to work in the seaside town at shops and businesses were caught in the traffic chaos with nine-mile tailbacks on the A14 as far as Seven Hills interchange.
There was congestion in the twin Trimley villages as motorists sought the only alternative route to avoid the jams with streams of cars and vans adding to the school run and usual morning traffic.
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Ironically, many of the portworkers who could get the trucks moving in the quayside parks were also struck in the chaos, one of Suffolk's busiest stretches of dual carriageway turned into a giant lorry park.
But why the problems arose was today a mystery - and it appeared Operation Stack, the system for dealing with lorries when the Port of Felixstowe is closed in high winds, had once again failed miserably.
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One driver who witnessed the traffic tailed back to Nacton said: “If there was a major incident at the Port of Felixstowe - as there have been in the past - and fire engines and ambulances were needed, how on earth would they get through? The answer is, they wouldn't.”
Another driver caught in the jams said: “Nothing is moving. There is no information. We have no idea how long we will be stuck here - I am already late for work.”
Problems began yesterday after 45mph winds meant quayside operations at the port had to be halted for safety reasons.
When Operation Stack is running lorries should park up in the outside lane of the A14 Port of Felixstowe Road in both carriageways between the dock spur roundabout and Dock Gate One.
At 7.30am today the separation cones had gone and the queue of lorries was in the inside lane with the outside empty, causing further confusion. Then as more trucks arrived both lanes were full with the backlog.
The road was said to be cleared by 10.45am.
Portworkers were working flat out to deal with the lorries to create more space on the terminal and get lorries off the road.
Seven months ago The Evening Star revealed radical changes were to take place to Operation Stack with the old A45 at Levington to be used as a parking area with a ticket system for drivers. Today the talks are still going on.
Port corporate affairs officer Paul Davey said it was still not known when the new system, which will be run by the police and Highways Agency, would come into operation.
“There have been a lot of details to iron out and there is still some work to do,” he said.
Heavy rain across Britain caused chaos for many communities - with more wet weather to come and severe weather warnings in place.
Flooding in the West Midlands, the South West, Cambridgeshire, and Wales, was causing problems for motorists with roads impassable, and rail travellers with several services cancelled.
Were you caught in the jams at Felixstowe? Tell us what you think - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk
FASTFACTS: Gridlock timetable
10am yesterday - High winds force port closure as workers brought in from their machines.
10.30am - 250 lorries parked on the port, hundreds more in yards and queues start to build on A14.
3pm - Port re-opens as wind drops and it is safe for work to resume.
5.45pm - Message sent out that port was again closed as wind was getting up.
6pm - Open again as workers attempt to clear backlog with trucks arriving thick and fast.
9.45pm - Closed again with gusty winds over 50mph.
1am today - Winds die down and cranes resume operations.
7.30am - Gridlock because after hours of work lorries are still parked on the A14 with more arriving.