December 8 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Options have been put forward for a bridge over a railway line to enable children to get to school safely.
The project is needed to help youngsters from three estates reach the new £20million Felixstowe Academy and avoid a long walk.
For years children at the old Orwell High School used the foot crossing between the Hawkes Lane footpath and Runnacles Way to cross the Ipswich-Felixstowe passenger line.
But Network Rail believed the increased use from the 1,800-pupil academy would make the Hawkes Lane path “one of the highest-risk crossings” in East Anglia.
The crossing was already classified as “high-risk” because of the number of incidents of near-misses and items left on the track.
Felixstowe Town Council’s plans committee received a letter from Suffolk County Council’s business development specialist proposing solutions to the problem – either a stepped bridge at a cost of £1.2million, or a ramped bridge priced at £1.9m.
Councillors voted for the more expensive ramped bridge amid concerns that the stepped bridge would not provide full access, especially for people with disabilities.
The county council is expected to make a decision fairly soon as the aim is to have the new bridge in place when the academy in Walton High Street opens its doors next Easter.
Planners said the school should not open without the bridge, but Felixstowe Academy said if a bridge was not possible, it was prepared to establish a home-school contract in which parents agree that children will not use the crossing, along with management by academy staff to prevent students using it.
There would also be a bus service set up for those students on Cavendish Park, Grange Farm and Orwell Green estates who would be faced with a longer walk, plus improved fencing to stop youngsters reaching the line.