Minister hears of Orwell Bridge chaos as Suffolk MPs demand changes

The Orwell Bridge. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Orwell Bridge. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Roads minister Jesse Norman is to tell Highways England to look again at the rules it sets before closing the Orwell Bridge during bad weather

Roads minister Jesse Norman with James Cartlidge during a visit to Suffolk last year. Picture: PAUL

Roads minister Jesse Norman with James Cartlidge during a visit to Suffolk last year. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

And he is also waiting to get an official request from Suffolk County Council for funds to develop a new northern relief road for Ipswich to ease traffic problems in the town centre.

Mr Norman, junior minister in the Department for Transport, met a group of Suffolk MPs including Ipswich’s Sandy Martin, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, Suffolk Coastal’s Dr Therese Coffey, and a representative from Dr Dan Poulter – any northern by-pass would go through his constituency.

The meeting was organised by Mr Martin who was responding to the concerns of his constituents after the bridge was closed three times in January because of high winds.

He said: “The minister said that there needed to be an expression of interest in building a northern by-pass registered by the March 19 so I am writing to Suffolk County Council saying that they need to get on and put one in.”

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin. Picture: SEANA HUGHES


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It was vital to have a new route across the top of the town to ease the pressure of traffic for his constituents, especially when the bridge closed.

Mr Cartlidge said the issue of the northern by-pass was outside his constituency – but he did not see next week’s date as a firm deadline by the DfT.

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He concentrated on what happened when the bridge closed: “I think we all accept that there will be times when the bridge has to close but asked the minister to get Highways England to look again at their protocols.

“Could they impose lower speed limits rather than close the bridge altogether? Could there be better routes for traffic trying to get across the town? That kind of thing.”

Mr Cartlidge was pleased that the issue was now on Mr Norman’s mind – and hoped that Highways England would be prepared when bad weather returns later in the year.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said they had secured money to look at a possible route for a new northern relief road – and officials were continuing to work on the project.

He added: “We are speaking regularly to the Department for Transport as we draw up these plans and we are working to all the deadlines that are being set.”

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