Work steps up on preparing for new Orwell crossings

The Orwell crossings should transform the Waterfront and island site - picture from www.skycameast.c

The Orwell crossings should transform the Waterfront and island site - picture from - Credit: Archant

Work to build new crossings over the River Orwell in Ipswich is set to step up a gear in the New Year.

The design team to come up with proposals for a new bridge over the river from the West Bank to Cliff Quay and a second bridge from the Felaw Street area to the island site is expected to be announced in early January.

And test drilling of the soil in the area to try to identify a route for a new road is also expected to start early in 2017.

The timeline was published as Suffolk County Council revealed the findings of its public consultation exercise into the proposed crossings.

Money for these was provided by the government in George Osborne’s last budget in March – although the county council has to make a substantial contribution.

The total cost of the scheme has been estimated at about £100m with just under £78m coming from the Treasury.

The consultation attracted almost 750 replies – and the vast majority were in favour of the new crossings.

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The most important benefit from the scheme was seen as easing congestion in the town centre and improving journey times in Ipswich. A total of 88% of replies saw this as very important or important.

Improving links between south east and south west Ipswich and making life easier for pedestrians and cyclists were also seen as key benefits.

The least important benefit for most people was the prospect of the regeneration of the island site – although 68% did see this as very important or important.

A design team for the new bridges is currently being chosen. The winning team in a competition run in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects is currently being selected.

The team is expected to be chosen in December and the winner announced in January.

After then a planning application will be made for a compound for equipment to start digging into soil to try to identify the best possible route – also taking into account existing buildings and roads.

A final route and design for the crossings is likely to be revealed in about October next year after further public consultation.

Guy McGregor, the Suffolk County Councillor overseeing the development of the proposal, said: “We need to keep the public up to date and hear what they have to say to make sure we involve everyone in what is a crucial project for the town.”

If everything goes according to plan, work on the new bridges should start in 2020 and they should be open within three years.