Thursday, March 6, 2014
7:37 PM

Volunteers will be asked to direct traffic during planned closures of the Orwell Bridge, under plans being drawn up by Suffolk Constabulary.

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

The proposal for volunteers to take on the responsibility was made at a summit on the A14 and Orwell Bridge today.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, and the county’s cabinet member of transport, Graham Newman, attended the summit as well as members of the Highways Agency, business and port representatives, and members of the haulage industry.

The summit was called to come up with ideas for easing chronic congestion which afflicts Ipswich and surrounding villages whenever the Orwell Bridge is closed.

Afterwards Mr Passmore said Suffolk Constabulary would be able to bestow powers on volunteers to direct traffic towards proper diversion routes when necessary.

“One thing the constabulary has agreed to do is we are now in a position where volunteers can have powers designated to them so that if there is a problem in, say, Coddenham, for planned closures the volunteers would be able to direct traffic so that it wouldn’t come through Coddenham,” he said.

“The main thing is the traffic in Ipswich and if we can get enough volunteers we can at least make sure we are getting people to the right diversion routes.

He added: “They’ll have to be certified by the Constabulary as a special constable or voluntary PCSO, so where there’s a planned closure they can come out and direct traffic. One of the difficulties in villages is when there’s a diversion everybody just scatters everywhere.”

Mr Passmore said he was “very pleased” with the summit and there would be more meetings in the future.

It was also proposed that the slip-road from the Shell garage on the westbound carriageway of the A14 shortly before the Orwell Bridge be modified.

“We are putting the boot in to make sure that slip road is improved because it’s dangerous,” he said. “One suggestion was if the station is redesigned so that the forecourt is where the derelict restaurant is now, which would provide room to improve the slip-road.”

On Wednesday three cars and a van were involved in a collision between the Shell garage and the bridge causing the outside lane to be closed for nearly two hours during the morning rush hour.

Other suggestions included better signage in Ipswich and on the A12 and A14, as well as speeding up the sequencing of traffic lights to process traffic through the town quicker.

Mr Passmore said political pressure would have to be applied to make sure the Orwell Bridge was included in the Local Economic Plan.

He said: “One reason why we jolly-well have to sort this out is because it’s damaging the image of Suffolk as a place to come and work in and damaging the Port of Felixstowe and I don’t think it’s fair that other places are getting money spent on them and we are not, and it’s time we said we need our fair share. It’s time for the government to step up to the plate.”

All the proposals agreed at the meeting will be published on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website next week.

The meeting came the day after a four-car crash near the bridge caused traffic gridlock in Ipswich.

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