Ipswich/Felixstowe: Could speed limit be reduced during high winds to ensure Orwell Bridge can remain open?

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
10:21 AM

Highways bosses and politicians are looking at new ways of easing traffic congestion in Ipswich – including holding Felixstowe-bound lorries in stacking areas west of the Orwell Bridge.

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A summit meeting between the police, Suffolk County Council, and Highways Agency officials is due to be held within the next few weeks to discuss ways of preventing a repeat of last week’s gridlock in Ipswich after the closure of the bridge.

On Wednesday the bridge was closed for much of the day, bringing the town to a standstill. Another closure overnight on Friday to Saturday caused further inconvenience, although there was not as much traffic on the road.

The summit meeting has been called by Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore who said it was vital to ensure the town was not brought to a halt by the closure of the bridge.

Efforts to reduce the number of accidents on the bridge are already under way. The Highways Agency is planning to introduce a 60mph speed limit, which is likely to be enforced with average speed cameras.

Mr Passmore said he was urging the Agency to consider introducing reduced speed limits, enforced by the cameras, when conditions deteriorated.

He said: “If things are particularly bad on the bridge for whatever reason you could drop the speed limit to 50mph or 40mph. If there are high winds it might be possible to use the bridge with a maximum of 30mph

“That would be better than sitting in a queue in Ipswich going precisely nowhere.”

One option could be the creation of stacking areas to the west of Ipswich for large lorries heading to Felixstowe when the bridge was closed.

He said the old A12 at Copdock, and the former Bury Road park and ride site in Ipswich could be considered. He also said sites further along the A14 near Stowmarket could be an option.

However this might not be a simple solution – most of the lorries heading to Felixstowe during periods of high winds are not going to the port itself, but independent yards. They are much more difficult to regulate.

County council cabinet member for transport Graham Newman said action was needed.

Some lorries had tried to avoid Ipswich by using the B1078 to get from Needham Market to Wickham Market and then go down the A12.

He said: “There were major problems in Coddenham where the road is totally unsuitable for large lorries like that. We have to look at ways of easing the problem.”

Ipswich council’s scrutiny panel is to look at the problems and draw up a policy to try to ensure the road can remain open.

Conservative councillor George Debman has called for the policy to be drawn up: “Those of us who live and work in the town know how difficult it is when the bridge is closed.

“The town comes to a halt and it really affects business. There must be a way of keeping the bridge open, reducing speeds and ensuring HGVs remain in the outside lane.”

Business leaders warned that regular closures of the bridge were damaging the economy of the whole county.

John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk and Ipswich Chamber of Commerce, said: “With the horrendous weather the effect on business has been a major challenge.

“The closure of the Orwell Bridge does cause major frustrations and inconvenience both to businesses moving freight and to those operating in Ipswich.

“If climate change means we will see the bridge closed more often then business will want to see options considered for improving the situation.”

He added. “Those options must have the support of business if they are to be implemented and make a difference.”

27 comments

  • We need a Northern bypass around Ipswich and have done for years. Unfortunately the Tory nimbys of northern Ipswich will veto it, so until sense prevails holdups will continue to blight Ipswich, but then this fits in with the existing Tory controlled SCC traffic plans for the town.

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    Driven Roundabend

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • What we really need is a government that not only believes in, but will also invest in our 'Transport Infrastructure' long term !, all this short termism, ideological and political point scoring gets us no where !!

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    freedomf

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • Agree with Driven. Lorries, and haulage companies, do not want to be parked up for hours while the bridge is close, they need to be moving to make money. Hopefully, as the Northern Bypass has been ruled out, they will start moving their business away from Felixstowe if they have to be stacked yp frequently, then the people of Ipswich can have some relief from this traffic nightmare.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • Northern Bypass,Northern Bypass,Northern Bypass , needs to be repeated over and over and over again. until someone listens and does more than just dismiss it out of hand as has been done today by Mr Newman. It was part of the plan for Ipswich before, its must be again..

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    mmm

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • if firms take away there business from felixstowe everyone will suffer including ipswich people.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • ~IpswichEntrepreneur, the docks have contributed to the roads the only problem is the highways agency wasted the money on the overhead signs that never give any useful information (e.g. did not say bridge was closed before Copdock) and the ‘Improvements’ to the Copdock roundabout and the dock spur roundabout (both of which are very debatable whether they are improvements)

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    A Smith

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • This seems like a good idea to me as I've experienced drifting when driving across that bridge even in my ancient Ranger Rover with cross winds (and that's without towing anything like a caravan, boat or trailer).

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    John Shirley

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

  • I agree with both the two previous comments, however what 'we' really need is a 'government' that believes in and will invest in Britain's 'Transport Infrastructure' over the long term !, short termism, political ideology and point scoring is not the answer !!

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    freedomf

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • when i drive my robin reliant over the bridge in high wind ,i need all the road.if you see my green reliant give me a pomp.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • Whilst I agree that a northern bypass would be the best option, I can also understand why the villages north of Ipswich object to it. Also being a simpleton - can someone explain to me how a sidewind on the bridge is a problem for traffic doing 70mph, but not for a vehicle doing 30 or 40mph? I don;t understand why a slower speed limit would help with high winds? The only option I can see that is viable is a tunnel - and they could reduce accidents on that stretch of roads at the same time by demolishing the shell garage to make way for the entrance to it!!

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    DaveHedgehog

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • Lizzy the problem with stacking is it costs hauliers and shipping companies money. If they're not moving they're not earning. If they have to be stacked too often it will be a big minus to Felixstowe's attractiveness compared to other ports. I am not anti-FXT, I am pro infrastructure. Something needs to be done, and as usual all that looks like it will be done is a lot of hot air will be spouted but no long-term action taken.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • Lack of forward planning years ago. When the bridge was built why wasn't it made to motorway standard to accommodate the increasing amount of traffic as Felixstowe port developed ?. There is now the problem of a sub-standard road network leading to the biggest port in Europe. I appreciate there are accidents which clog up Ipswich but by reducing the speed limit all this will do is lead to more congestion as vehicles are on the road for longer. Best of luck trying to sort this one out.

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    oldwhinger

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • This says all we need to know. Newman says action is needed. I thought that was part of his remit. Clearly, especially after the further plan to expand Felixstowe's dock announced yesterday, the Northern bypass is a priority. However after 30 years it is worth considering other measures such as this proposal to ease matters when the wind blows. It's probably not the most significant reason for bridge closures although it is the least predictable. An alternative route will always be needed and a Northern bypass is the only solution which fits the bill.

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    amsterdam81

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • What a good idea Esco...close Felixstowe docks...that won't effect the local economy will it?

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    Occold335

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • This seems like a good idea, but it still amazes me that cars are not allowed over the bridge even in high winds. With a lower speed limit this would considerably reduce the congestion through Ipswich.

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    DALINE

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • What we need is a bridge between Harwich + Felixstowe a tunnel to replace The Orwell Bridge + a decent dual carriageway between Ipswich + Norwich incorporating a northern bypass to the A12.Will cost millions but its the only way forward.

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    JC

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • Derr - I don't think so or all the other high bridges in the country would remain open with reduced speed limits.

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    Sarky Sage

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • Put a roof on it .....no gawping at the views so eyes on the road ...no cross winds ...no icing or slippery road ...40mph max speed limit.. lorries and cars segregated by barriers ..no overtaking ... cameras and a control office permantly manned ...oh what the hell build a tunnel ....

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    ukmartian

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • when i drive my robin reliant over the bridge in high wind ,i need all the road.if you see my green reliant give me a pomp.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • Don't hold your breath if Passmore and politicians have to make a decision about the bridge and lorries ,a solution would be to make the Wall much higher this would also help in reducing the number of people jumping off the bridge

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    pandy

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • One other thing. What is the legality with forcing lorries to stack? As far as I am aware there are no restrictions on HGVs through Kesgrave and around Colchester Rd and Valley Rd (it's a diversion route at the moment). What if drivers heading out of FXT just said no, they weren't going to stack as it costs them time and money and drove around the diversion anyway?

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    Esco Fiasco

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • The Felixstowe Docks situation is a joke... yes its the biggest UK container port but they haven't really contributed to the road infrastructure. I also find it trivial how the meeting will be in the "next few weeks"... despite the weather improving there is a possibility for it to be shut at least twice before then!

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • @Occold. You should read what I said again. I didn't mention closing the docks, more scaling it back so it is at a level the local infrastructure can cope with. Also, those jobs won't be lost, they will be relocated to other ports. Gateway is only one hour down the road. When the bridge is closed it takes much longer than that to get from the Copdock interchange to Nacton.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • As a northern bypass seams a long way off, in the sort term why not take the reduced speed limit to its logical conclusion. Close the bridge and A14 to Felixstowe, park on the far side and walk in from there. No accidents and reduced pollution.

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    A Smith

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • The transport industry will decide - and they may say that London is a better option. Felixstowe needs another industry. Relying on foreign imports does not help England. A tunnel to Harwich could help - East Anglia needs access to passenger ferries.

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    braiswick

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

  • Yes Esco Fiasco if you close the docks of course the traffic will be alleviated as there will be thousands unemployed. Then your uproar will be about the amount of people on Job Seekers. I agree with Daline, find a way to hoard the trucks just like operation stack and still let cars go over the bridge.

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    Lizzy

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

  • How is it that £102m can be found to dual the A11 between Norwich and Cambridge, but YET AGAIN no money, and no initiative from Suffolk County Council to improve the A14A12 Orwell Crossing ?!?! How many tractors, weekend shoppers and lost BBC Look East Executive will be using the A11 to Norwich ?? When the Orwell bridge opened in the early 1980's the port of Felixstowe handled around 300,000 TEUS (twenty foot equivaleny units) per year. Roll forward 30 years and it is handling nearly 4 million TEUS per year ! Thirteen times the volume. 40% of the entire nation's imports (and sadly much fewer exports) now arrive at Felixstowe and bypass Ipswich (also a main port) via the magnificent Orwell Bridge. Despite Felixstowe's status as Britain's foremost container port, there has been little new investment in roads or rail since 1982.

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    Mark Ling

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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