Traffic in Ipswich is terrible. Let's change Orwell Bridge speed limit now
PUBLISHED: 06:50 01 February 2020
Mark Murphy says it's time for action over traffic delays. Ipswich has had enough
Ipswich is a market town with a medieval road layout that simply can't cope with the volume of traffic it has on a daily basis, let alone when the Orwell Bridge closes. The big debate on my BBC Radio Suffolk Breakfast show this week was what can be done to ease that congestion?
Traffic levels are now far greater than they ever used to be and it seems the smallest incident, accident or roadwork's is enough to see it grind to a complete halt.
Highways England have finally emerged from their office and come up with some ideas on how to ease the congestion when the bridge closes.
Yup more ideas, most of which they could have got from listening to my breakfast show callers.
One idea is to reduce the speed limit over the bridge when the wind blows to 40mph. This would mean it could stay open with winds up 70mph and it also means 15 out of the 18 wind-related closures since October 2013 wouldn't have happened. Why didn't they do it before then?
They say this could be brought in before next winter, callers to my breakfast show demanded it was brought in now!
Why wait they said, "how long does it take to put a sign up"? Plenty of listeners said "if China can build hospitals in days surely we could put some signs up".
Suffolk residents want action not more words.
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We've also heard this week that plans for a Northern bypass for Ipswich are now pretty much dead in the water. The leader of Suffolk County Council, Matthew Hicks has effectively killed it off by recommending no further action is taken towards it.
He spoke on my BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show this week and said without agreement from everybody concerned it couldn't go ahead. Conservative run Babergh District council, East Suffolk council and Mid Suffolk district council have said no, as have the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, Therese Coffey and Dr Dan Poulter, the Conservative MP for North Ipswich and Central Suffolk.
Labour run Ipswich Borough council is for it, as is the towns Conservative MP, Tom Hunt. There are plenty of Tories at the borough council keen on it too.
The consultation run by the County Council saw around two thirds of respondents say they didn't want a Northern route.
What this has thrown up appears to be a town versus countryside debate. The thing is whilst all this is happening; people in Ipswich are late for work, appointments and are just getting fed up of getting stuck in traffic. It's not just people in Ipswich, it's people from the surrounding area caught up in it too.
Our councils have declared a climate emergency and yet here we have cars, lorries, vans and buses belching out exhaust fumes in our county town.
What would help? Highways England could you please purchase some signs now and put them up so the bridge can stay open. Greater Anglia, please sort out your new trains and make them run and be reliable. Plenty of people have abandoned them recently and have switched to using their car.
How about a better park and ride? Suffolk County council closed one of the three down to save a few quid. Why can't it be opened again? There was time when a fourth was on the cards for East Ipswich, why can't we look at that again?
Cheaper bus fares would help. I'm also getting grumbles about what was once called Super Route 66 from Martlesham and Kesgrave.
Could employers do more to encourage walking or cycling? Maybe putting the old roundabout back in Civic Drive might help or as one of my older callers said "Bring back the trams, Mark!"
The time for talk is over and according to my listeners it's time for action and I have to say I agree with them. We cannot keep allowing Suffolk's main town to literally grind to a halt. Let's get to grips with this and not keep kicking it down the road or washing our hands of it and saying "It's got nothing to do with me".