Suffolk rejects claims of inadequate preparation for Storm Doris chaos
- Credit: Archant
Officials at Suffolk County Council have rejected claims that better preparation could have eased problems caused by Storm Doris which forced the closure of the Orwell Bridge last week.
The bridge was closed from 10am to 8.30pm last Thursday as the storm battered the region – it was shut by Highways England because of the danger to vehicles in high winds.
That forced traffic that normally use the bridge to find alternative routes through the town. The main route signposted was along London Road, Yarmouth Road, Valley Road, Colchester Road and Heath Road to Felixstowe Road.
However the extra traffic on this route – especially heavy lorries – meant drivers came to a standstill and journeys that would normally take a few minutes took hours.
Some questioned why a “stack” area for lorries was not set up on the old A12 between Copdock and Capel St Mary – or why traffic was diverted along London Road not Wherstead Road.
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The county council defended the preparations for the storm and said nothing more could have been done to ease the problems on the roads.
A spokesman said it was not possible to force lorries to use a stack area – that could work for port traffic because if the quayside was shut there was nowhere else for lorries to go and those that were first into the stack area would be first to be dealt with at the port when it reopened.
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But general lorry traffic could not be forced to use a stack area – lorries were all heading for different destinations which were open if drivers were able to reach them.
The official diversion was along London Road because it was best able to handle extra traffic – but lorry drivers tended to use satnavs anyway and again the diversions were only advisory – drivers could not be forced to use a particular route.
The best way for drivers to avoid getting caught up in the traffic problems was for them to find alternatives to getting behind the wheel when there were warnings about a possible closure of the bridge.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore hopes to talk again to Highways England to see if there are alternatives to closing the bridge for so long – but feared there was no alternative to last week’s closure because of the wind.