Day of horror on the roads
POLICE said they had dealt as quickly as possible with a catalogue of road accidents that plunged traffic in and around Ipswich into chaos.A 54-year-old Ipswich man is in a critical condition in hospital after his red Audi saloon car, which had broken down on the A14, was hit by a Volvo lorry with the Argos livery, on the Orwell Bridge at 6am yesterday.
POLICE said they had dealt as quickly as possible with a catalogue of road accidents that plunged traffic in and around Ipswich into chaos.
A 54-year-old Ipswich man is in a critical condition in hospital after his red Audi saloon car, which had broken down on the A14, was hit by a Volvo lorry with the Argos livery, on the Orwell Bridge at 6am yesterday.
The car appeared to have been dragged sideways about 250 yards and some reports suggested the driver was thrown from the car and hit by other vehicles. The lorry driver was admitted to hospital suffering from shock.
Debris lay scattered across a quarter-of-a-mile long stretch of road as traffic ground to a standstill.
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Firefighters were called after witness reports that the lorry was on fire. There were reports of a second collision involving a lorry on the road shortly after.
Another motorist received serious head injuries in a two-vehicle accident along the B1456 at Wherstead, at 2.30pm, which caused delays to evening rush hour traffic.
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The first accident caused both eastbound lanes of the bridge to be closed, which sparked hours worth of delays for thousands of motorists who had to be diverted through the centre of Ipswich.
The chaos worsened later when a fully laden cement tanker became stuck in a drain between Copdock and Wherstead, requiring a heavy wrecker vehicle to recover it. A double decker bus also ran out of fuel on the A137 at Wherstead.
While traffic was brought to a standstill on routes into Ipswich, an accident at 7.45am involving four vehicles on the northbound carriageway of the A12 – a quarter of a mile before the Copdock interchange led to further gridlock.
The drivers of two of the vehicles involved were taken to Ipswich Hospital, with one man suffering head and chest injuries. One man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of drink driving.
Inspector Paul Sharp from Suffolk Constabulary, said: "Each of these incidents was dealt with as swiftly and efficiently as possible given the individual situation that the officers found themselves faced with.
"We are aware of the considerable inconvenience caused to the motoring public as a result of these incidents and we work closely with our partner agencies to ensure that delays are kept to a minimum.
"Our priority is always to preserve life and to ensure the safety of all road users," he added.
Both lanes of the eastbound A14 between Wherstead and Nacton where closed at 6.35am and lorries were queuing on the bridge. Diversions were also set up along the A137 at Wherstead.
Queues stretching back to the A140 junction in one direction and to Nacton in the other were reported. The Felixstowe-bound carriageway of the A14 was closed from the Wherstead turn-off for several hours, with traffic sent through Ipswich town centre. Norwich Road, London Road and Felixstowe Road were all said to be clogged up as a result.
Mr Sharp suggested foggy conditions could be behind the traffic problems.
The eastbound lanes of the bridge were reopened again at 12.45pm.
Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Ipswich and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said the accidents and the delays they sparked, drew attention to the need for improved roads in Suffolk.
He said: "This does highlight the dire need for proper infrastructure, which Suffolk does not have.
"We don't have a northern by-pass and we need one. The Copdock junction is a bottleneck and businesses need to have a reliable road network.
"When traffic doesn't move on occasions such as today people can't get to work. The smaller the business the bigger the impact is likely to be."
Despite the problems caused by closing the bridge, highways chiefs insisted it could cope with more traffic which will follow the expansion of Felixstowe port.
The Highways Agency says the maximum capacity for the A12 and A14 is 4,000 vehicles per hour, per carriageway.
At peak times, the amount of traffic using the road is currently well below this figure – the Orwell Bridge eastbound being the hotspot with a total of 3,000 vehicles per hour.
An agency spokesman said: "Our current projection is that the bridge would be able to cope with such an increase in lorries.
"One million extra lorries would be, on average, 20,000 vehicles per week. If the proportions travelling in each hour and day remain constant then the average effect on the Orwell Bridge at peak times would be an increase of about 240 vehicles per day, or 120 each direction.
"This would not bring the average peak hour flows up to the capacity of 3,600 vehicles per hour per carriageway."
Meanwhile, a man from the Newmarket area was last night fighting for his life after his Ford Ka car ploughed into a ditch in west Suffolk.
The driver, suffered serious head injuries and was taken to West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, after his Ford Ka left the road and ended up in a ditch in Elveden Road, Barnham.
A Suffolk Police spokesman described his condition as critical but stable after the accident, which took place just before 9am.
Police were also called to a two-vehicle accident in Stow Road, Stowlangtoft, which left both drivers needing hospital treatment.
A female motorist sustained fractures when her green Ford Ka was in collision with a blue Ford Mondeo at about 7.50pm. The male driver of the Mondeo was later released from hospital. Diversions were put in place while police dealt with the accident and heavy lifting equipment was used to recover the vehicles.
A driver of a black Volkswagen Golf was left shocked but not seriously injured after his vehicle overturned on the A1066 at Boxted at about 9am.
A woman was knocked off her bicycle in Gunton Church Lane, Lowestoft, at 8.45am and paramedics dealt with her injuries at the scene.
At 9.01am, police received a report of an overturned vehicle on the A1066 at Boxted. The driver of the Volkswagen Golf was shocked but not seriously hurt.
Any witnesses to the accidents should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500.