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Ipswich MP 'encouraged' by Highways England meeting about Orwell Bridge closures

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has said he is encouraged by plans to solve the town’s Orwell Bridge closure problems – and is hopeful some solutions will be in place before next winter.

Mr Hunt met with Highways England on Tuesday morning, where they discussed the soon-to-be-published Orwell Bridge aerodynamic study report.

While unable to reveal any of the report’s details because of confidentiality clauses, he did confirm it contained recommendations both short term and long term.

He said: “I was pretty encouraged by the meeting.

“There are some short term solutions they have and long term solution they have as well.

“They seem to be pretty determined to try and do something, and hopefully do something that certainly by next winter we are not in a position to have to close the bridge to all vehicles in high winds.”

He added: “I am determined to do what I can – I have tabled a parliamentary question last week.

“I want to be part of a positive story about things being delivered that improve people’s lives.”

Highways England is expected to present its report to Ipswich Borough Council’s scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday next week.

The nine month aerodynamic study was carried out in partnership with City, University of London experts from October 2018, and included work assessing safe wind speeds for vehicles to cross the bridge, whether high-sided vehicles could be segregated and whether wind barriers could be added.

The report was due to be presented last Autumn, but has so far yet to materialise.

Estimated figures from Ipswich Central, which looks after business interests in the town, suggests that a bridge closure costs the town’s economy £1million per day.

The town also becomes gridlocked with motorists reporting journeys just a handful of miles taking several hours.

While the details of the report are not yet clear, other recommendations could include measures around diversion routes, segregating traffic, more efficient traffic signals and diverting vehicles off the A14 sooner.

A recent spate of closures and delays on the A14 have also re-ignited questions about investment in junctions around Ipswich, with Copdock in particular a key pinch point where it meets the A12.

By Jason Noble, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Yesterday, 21st January, the Orwell Bridge was partially closed for almost five hours. However, this was due to a collision involving two lorries which shut the westbound carriageway and lane two eastbound.


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