Questions as lorry numbers rise

PROSPECTS of up to one million extra lorries rumbling through Suffolk as Felixstowe port expands will have a major impact on the county's main roads.Today The Evening Star asks the Highways Agency – responsible for the trunk roads, the A12 and the A14 – whether the roads can cope and if it is prepared to deal with the extra traffic.

PROSPECTS of up to one million extra lorries rumbling through Suffolk as Felixstowe port expands will have a major impact on the county's main roads.

Today The Evening Star asks the Highways Agency – responsible for the trunk roads, the A12 and the A14 – whether the roads can cope and if it is prepared to deal with the extra traffic.

Vital concerns have been raised by the port's plans for expansion and its effects on some of the congestion hot-spots, such as the Orwell Bridge.

The bridge is the only way of diverting heavy traffic away from Ipswich and if it was closed because of a serious accident or high winds, there could be chaos.


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Police would be faced with stacking lorries on the A14 or funneling them through Ipswich, which is already congested with cars during the day.

With possibly 3,000 extra lorries on any day to cope with, it would be a nightmare.

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Last month the bridge was closed for repairs over two weekends and traffic experienced what a tortuous eight-mile route it would be through Ipswich.

But there are also other concerns on the road network, especially on the Felixstowe peninsula where all the lorries would be heading to and from.

Residents in Trimley St Mary already suffer from fumes from the traffic wafting across an open space used by children playing and into gardens – though pollution levels so far have not required action – and constant traffic noise.

The dock spur roundabout has seen 20 crashes in six years involving lorries rolling over or shedding their loads, including one fatality.

Currently some two million lorries use the junction a year and with that increasing by perhaps 50 per cent, so the chances of more accidents will rise.

The Evening Star is seeking assurances from the Highways Authority that it is taking the consequences of port expansion seriously and is already geared up for the development, having taken it into account in its future planning.

Port bosses will be submitting planning applications and a Harbour Revision Order soon for the redevelopment of the port's southern terminals.

The scheme will involve filling in the dock basin – the original port – and demolishing the P&O ro-ro and passenger ferry terminals to create 1,000 metres of new quays and deepwater berths for the world's biggest ships.

It will increase capacity by 1.5 million containers a year, and, together with the current expansion of Trinity Terminal, will give the port an overall capacity of 5.2m boxes.

nWhat do you think should be done about the extra lorries heading for our roads? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

THE QUESTIONS:

1) How many vehicles a day are the A14 and A12 trunk roads running through Suffolk built to cope with?

2) What is the current daily capacity of the A12 and A14 in Suffolk – both for cars and for HGVs?

3) Would the Orwell Bridge, already heavily congested at peak times, be able to cope with up to one million extra lorries a year, many of them travelling across it during the busiest parts of the day?

4) What would be the effect if a serious accident on the Orwell Bridge, or high winds, forced it to be closed for several hours?

5) Is there an emergency plan in place to deal with such an event?

6) Where would the traffic be re-routed?

7) What would be the effect of an accident at the dock spur roundabout at the edge of Felixstowe, or on the A14 approaching the junction, which blocked the dual carriageway and prevented traffic travelling to and from the port? Such accidents have happened in the past and would be more likely if lorry traffic was increased by 50 per cent.

8) Would lorries be stacked on the A14 and old A45 road at Stratton Hall-Levington – or would they be forced to go through the Trimley villages to reach the port?

9) With traffic forecasts continuing to indicate increasing numbers of vehicles on our roads, what is the Highways Agency's projections for traffic on Suffolk's trunk roads for the next decade?

10) Has the port's expansion been taken into account in these projections, or was the port's southern extension not envisaged?

11) Just a decade ago, the port handled one million containers a year. Today it is has the capacity for 2.7 million standard-sized boxes. Was it realised it would one day grow to as many as 5.2 million?

12) Has the Highways Agency analysed the impact of the port's growth and projected growth on the A12 and A14? If so, what are the findings?

13) Have any areas of the A14 or its junctions in Suffolk – and particularly on the Felixstowe peninsula – been identified that would need improvements work or safety schemes to cope with the extra traffic? When would such work be done and how much would it cost? Would the port be expected to contribute towards the cost or would it come from the public purse?

14) Are there any plans to add extra lanes to the A14 on the Felixstowe peninsula?

15) How can the Highways Agency allow industrial installations such as the Port of Felixstowe to add such large increases of traffic to the road network without thought to its impact on the communities alongside the road?

16) Does the Highways Agency have to take account of noise and fumes from traffic which may cause problems for residents?

17) Has the Highways Agency had any input into the port's traffic study, been consulted over the port expansion plans, or drawn up its own study?

18) How much is spent on the annual maintenance of the A14 and A12 through Suffolk?

19) How much of the repairs needed are down to damage, wear and tear, caused by HGVs?

20) How much would up to one million extra lorries a year add to the repair bill each year?

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