Call for ‘fit for purpose’ road network in region as Suffolk and Norfolk transport plan highlights poor journey speeds
Poor average journey times on the region’s key routes has led to business chiefs calling for a “fit for purpose” road network to tackle congestion.
Data prepared for the new transport strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk has shown average speeds well below national routes.
Car journeys from Ipswich to Lowestoft have an average speed of 37mph, while Ipswich to Norwich is 36mph. Despite mostly travelling on the A14, Ipswich to Felixstowe is a 34mph average.
The strategy has also highlighted severe congestion on the A14 around Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, as well as the below average numbers using public transport.
Andrew Harston, chairman of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s transport and infrastructure board (TIB), said: “The average speeds along key arterial routes in Suffolk sum up the frustration and business risk of many users of our county’s highways.
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“For Suffolk to continue contributing as it does to the national economy, we need our strategic and major roads to be fit for that purpose.
“The TIB has contributed ideas to and endorsed the transport strategy and is confident that it contains the right elements which if funded and fully implemented will help secure that vital economic objective.”
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The strategy, put together by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and county councils, has highlighted areas of improvement over the next three-five years while looking ahead to the 2040s.
Among some of the priority areas are Ipswich, Norwich, the energy coast, and key routes such as the A14 and A47.
The plan proposes to improve routes to and from the key ports in Felixstowe, Ipswich and Lowestoft, improve connections to local airports in Norwich, Stansted and Luton, make upgrades to rail junctions and introduce digital rail signalling to reduce failures.
Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said it had an impact on business and the economy of the region when transport infrastructure was not up to scratch.
He said: “Getting out of Ipswich is the problem and I don’t think the government is putting enough effort to dealing with congestion.
“The majority of congestion is in urban areas. That’s not to say it isn’t in rural areas but what I am saying is we need to get the numbers right.”
Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Integrated Transport Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk will clearly evidence where investment in transport is needed and what this investment could achieve.
“It looks at how our local economy might develop over the coming years and the transport interventions needed to support this.
“It will be used to guide investment decisions from national and local partners.
“To create an environment where businesses can flourish, our transport infrastructure needs improving and consideration needs to be given to how we will live, work and travel in future.
“We know that effective transport networks can help to boost inward investment and business growth.
“They can also unlock opportunities for inclusive growth across all communities and provide people with better and safe access to services, products and opportunities.
“The development of the strategy has been jointly funded by New Anglia LEP, Suffolk County Council and Norfolk County Council.
“Following discussion by local authority partners, the strategy will be presented to the New Anglia LEP board later this month for approval.”
Suffolk County Council’s cabinet will discuss the plan at its meeting next week.