New speed limits have kept the Orwell Bridge open 11 times in high winds
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
The Orwell Bridge remained open during high winds 11 times since the new speed restrictions were put in place - saving the Ipswich economy £1 million every time.
The reduced speed limits were introduced on the bridge, which is crossed by 60,000 vehicles a day, back in March to help prevent the bridge from closing during high winds.
New equipment allows officials to lower the speed limit temporarily to 40mph during winds of 50mph or more - greatly reducing the number of times the bridge will have to close - which leads to gridlock in Ipswich and impacts on the town centre's economy.
Highways England head of planning and development, Simon Amor said: "Since the completion of the new £1.5million upgrade of the Orwell Bridge in March, the new speed limit of 40mph has been implemented eleven times: three times in May, twice in July and six times in October.
"On the majority of these occasions, the wind speeds were in excess of 50mph for sustained periods of time, which historically would have meant we would have had to close the bridge for safety reasons, and divert traffic through Ipswich.”
According to business leaders at Ipswich Central every time the bridge is closed it costs the Ipswich economy around £1 million.