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Diversion routes used during Orwell Bridge closures to be scrutinised

PUBLISHED: 08:18 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 21:40 10 December 2018

The bridge over the river Orwell will not close Picture: SU ANDERSON

The bridge over the river Orwell will not close Picture: SU ANDERSON

Diversion routes used during Orwell Bridge closures are being looked at, according to a county councillor.

Councillor Mary Evans has responed to concerns from businesses referred to in a letter from a fellow councillor Picture: GREGG BROWNCouncillor Mary Evans has responed to concerns from businesses referred to in a letter from a fellow councillor Picture: GREGG BROWN

Mary Evans, SCC’s cabinet member for highways, has responded to concerns from businesses on Wherstead Road that have been severely affected by recent bridge closures that cause traffic to build throughout Ipswich.

She was keen to state that the bridge closures were the responsibility of Highways England, not SCC, after the Orwell Bridge was closed for five hours on Thursday, November 29.

Her comments came just as the Orwell Bridge suffered again on Wednesday after a lorry overturned on the A14.

It was also announced yesterday that the business case for a northern relief road in Ipswich which could alleviate traffic during Orwell Bridge closures would be delayed until 2019.

Suffolk County councillor Jack Abbott has warned that Orwell Bridge closures could put small businesses at risk Picture: ARCHANTSuffolk County councillor Jack Abbott has warned that Orwell Bridge closures could put small businesses at risk Picture: ARCHANT

Ms Evans said: “Highways England are responsible for the A14 and Orwell bridge and therefore the decision to close the bridge in high winds.

“I understand the frustration of the public, when the Orwell bridge is shut, but unfortunately the decision to close the bridge is out of our control.”

She continued: “SCC are also working with Highways England to look at the diversion routes used during closure of the bridge to see if alternative routes could improve traffic flows.”

Ms Evans was speaking in response to a letter penned to her by fellow councillor Jack Abbott, who set out the issues shops and stores on Wherstead Road have faced from several road closures that diverted traffic to the area.

The closure of the bridge last month saw mass traffic on the road which led to a “dramatic reduction of income for local businesses” according to Mr Abbott.

The letter concluded: “The current situation is unsustainable and is putting the futures of these local businesses at risk.”

Mr Abbott also asked about compensation for businesses after transportation of two 146,000kg nuclear transformers closed Wherstead Road for consecutive weekends.

Ms Evans made it clear that any claims for compensation would have to be made to Scottish Power Renewables, who own the transformers.

A spokesman for ScottishPower Renewables said: “We appointed ABB, Allelys and Suffolk Highways to manage the complex operation to transport the transformers.

“We always work with our contractors to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum. We are grateful to the public for their patience.”

Highways England failed to respond to calls for comment.

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