Orwell Bridge 50mph proposals receive 20 objections as new research reveals police attended 56 crashes on the bridge in five years
- Credit: Archant
Police are called to accidents on the Orwell Bridge almost every five weeks, it has been revealed.
A total of 56 collisions took place on the A14 across the bridge over a five-year period ending at the end of October last year, figures released by Suffolk Constabulary under Freedom of Information laws showed.
There were no injuries in 33 of the crashes, while three people were seriously injured and 34 were slightly injured.
In the majority of cases, it was unknown in what lane or direction the collision took place. The news comes amid proposals to reduce the speed limit on the bridge from 70mph to 50mph – a move designed to improve safety between Wherstead and Nacton which could see the introduction of average speed cameras.
Yesterday, the Highways Agency (HA) said 20 objections to the proposals received during a recent statutory objection will now be considered.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, who supports the proposals, said: “I am disappointed that the response from the public consultation will cause a delay to the proposed speed limit reduction and while I appreciate that all objections need to be considered, I find it staggering that 20 individual objections are given more weight than support for the 50mph limit by the county and borough council and the constabulary.
“I have spoken many times about the impact of collisions on this stretch of the road. Any hold-up on the A14 also has a huge impact on the Suffolk economy, both from a point of view of local companies not being able to carry out their business and also from a reputational perspective for visitors.
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“I will continue to push for the reduced limit on the bridge because the constabulary is quite clear that a reduced limit will have a positive impact on safety.”
In a letter to the HA last month, Therese Coffey, Suffolk Coastal MP, said a technical note it had produced in March 2013 put forward a reduction to 60mph and suggested reducing the speed limit to 50mph was not viable.
She also questioned whether average speed cameras are “truly necessary”.
Yesterday, Dr Coffey said: “I am pleased the decision the Highways Agency has announced. It is now about looking at the evidence and objections.
“If they can come up with evidence to show that a reduced speed limit would help with (road safety), then I would back that, but their current evidence only ever really supported 60mph at most.”
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “I support the police commissioner’s aim of trying to reduce accidents.
“When the bridge is shut, it causes massive disruption. It affects the economy and Ipswich grinds to a halt, so we need to do what we can to limit that happening while ensuring the free flow of traffic is not impeded.”
Catherine Brookes, east regional director of the HA, said: “Many of the objections argued against a 50mph and 60mph speed limit for the bridge, so we will now take a detailed look at those objections and investigate what the appropriate speed limit should be and whether any further safety measures can be introduced which will continue to improve safety for drivers.”