Transport scheme could survive

IPSWICH: Despite fears of a government funding squeeze, promoters of a new transport scheme for the town centre are hopeful it will get the green light from the Treasury.

In the dying days of the Labour government, ministers at the Department for Transport gave early-stage approval for the “Ipswich fit for the 21st century” proposals.

These would see improvements to roads, bus routes and cycle paths in the town centre to try to encourage drivers out of their cars.

The total cost of the scheme is put at about �25million with �22.5m due to come from the government.

Like all government schemes, the proposal is due to be reviewed by the new administration over the next few months.

However, county councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor was hopeful it would survive a cull.

He said: “In comparison with most other schemes this is very modest. �25m might sound a lot for Ipswich but in a global scale it is a very modest amount for fairly major benefits.”

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The scheme includes proposals to rebuild both Ipswich bus stations and to remodel the entire length of Princes Street from the railway station to the Cornhill.

This would include demolishing the roundabout at Civic Drive and replacing it with a road junction aimed at making it easier for pedestrians and cyclists, with priority for buses.

Other roads will be changed to make them more pedestrian friendly – including a new walking route from the town centre to the Waterfront down Upper Brook Street, Lower Brook Street, and Star Lane.

All traffic would be banned from Upper Brook Street during the working day and Lower Brook Street is set to be made one-way heading south.

There would also be new computerised traffic lights to try to ensure vehicles keep moving around the town.

Mr McGregor said there were some aspects of the scheme that would definitely need to be implemented in the town and if it was not given government approval, funds would have to be taken from elsewhere in the county’s transport budget to carry them out.

During the general election campaign the current Transport Secretary Philip Hammond visited Ipswich to support Ben Gummer.

Mr Hammond, who was then shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said schemes like that proposed for Ipswich would have to show clear value for money.

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