Motorists braced for roadworks chaos

By Rebecca SheppardTHERE will be misery for motorists this summer as major roadworks are set to disrupt Suffolk's county town.Gas industry giant National Grid Transco will be digging up one of Ipswich town centre's busiest routes so a gas main can be replaced.

By Rebecca Sheppard

THERE will be misery for motorists this summer as major roadworks are set to disrupt Suffolk's county town.

Gas industry giant National Grid Transco will be digging up one of Ipswich town centre's busiest routes so a gas main can be replaced.

Ipswich Borough Council will have to close roads so the work can be carried out, which is likely to cause long delays in rush-hour, disruption to bus routes and timetables as well as affecting businesses in the area.


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There is an 18in cast iron gas main that urgently needs replacing with a more durable plastic pipe at the junction of St Margaret's Street, Northgate Street, Fonnereau Road and Soane Street.

The work has been scheduled between July 18 and September 5 because gas demand is at its lowest during the summer months. A trench will be excavated alongside the existing pipe so the new gas main can be laid alongside it before being removed.

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The council said it would be necessary to close Fonnereau Road, Northgate Street and Soane Street where they meet St Margaret's Street to comply with safety regulations. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane and will be controlled by two-way lights.

After four weeks, it is hoped Northgate Street and Fonnereau Road will be reopened. However, Soane Street will be closed for the seven weeks, except for access to private properties from the Bolton Lane end of Soane Street.

The closure of the Northgate Street and St Margaret Street junction will prevent all traffic, including buses, from turning into St Margaret's Street and gaining access to Tower Ramparts bus station.

Ipswich Borough Council said alternative arrangements for buses will be provided and extra parking for motorists with disabilities was being arranged.

The work is part of Transco's £2billion national programme to replace old iron gas mains with polythylene pipes, a material more flexible and highly resistant to corrosion.

It is part of its statutory duty to maintain a safe and secure gas supply system. The council is ensuring its road improvements programme is carried out at the same time to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

It will be reconstructing Museum Street as the carriageway is breaking up and will also be undertaking improvements in Dogs Head Street.

Inga Lockington, the council's transport spokeswoman, said: "During school holidays there is always much less traffic on the road and this was very important for the timing of this work."

Stephen Auld, its head of transport services, added: "Transco have to do the work in the summer because that is when gas demand is at its lowest and the mains they are replacing is the largest and most important in Ipswich.

"They have the right to dig up the road whenever they want or need to, but the council has been in long negotiations with them to try to ensure that the disruption is kept to a minimum – especially by avoiding the time when the Orwell Bridge is partially closed."

n Overnight work to carry out resurfacing and improve road markings on the A12 between Chelmsford and Ipswich will close slip-roads and sections of the carriageway from Friday .

The work will be carried out in several short stages over five weeks between 8pm and 5am Monday to Friday. It will affect the Capel St Mary, Bentley, Boreham, Spring Lane, Crown, Eight Ash Green, Marks Tey, Kelvedon North, Webb's Farm and Galleywood interchanges.

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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