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Why are we STILL waiting for answers over Orwell Bridge closures?

PUBLISHED: 14:00 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:00 17 October 2019

Details on measures to prevent Orwell Bridge wind closures have yet to be made public. Picture: ARCHANT

Details on measures to prevent Orwell Bridge wind closures have yet to be made public. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has demanded action over traffic management of the Orwell Bridge in high winds, warning that delays are "playing politics" with the town.

Sandy Martin MP said he was Sandy Martin MP said he was "fed up" of delays around the Orwell Bridge measures. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Highways England began an aerodynamic study one year ago, which has assessed whether cars or lorries could continue using the bridge in high winds, whether wind breaks could be installed or reduced speed limits could keep the bridge open.

The nine-month study carried out by experts at City, University of London wrapped up in July, but despite Suffolk Highways expecting results to be published this month, Highways England has refused to say when its findings will be disclosed.

MP Sandy Martin said it was time for action.

"I am getting very fed up with various people sitting on reports that really should have been published ages ago - in come cases to try and disguise bad news or put it off until after an event they don't want to prejudice, all of which is playing politics with Ipswich," he said.

Ipswich becomes gridlocked when the Orwell Bridge closes. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIpswich becomes gridlocked when the Orwell Bridge closes. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"I think it's about time we start to see some action."

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Mr Martin said delays with northern bypass answers had also caused frustration, which was "endangering the sure flow of goods by not having a safe and viable alternative to the A14 that can cut in when the Orwell Bridge has to close".

He added: "The importance of the Port of Felixstowe in this county is absolutely massive, whatever happens with Brexit."

The calls come as the county prepares for the winter when potential wind closures are most likely.

According to Highways England, the aerodynamic study is part of a larger feasibility package which also includes work to analyse types of vehicles.

A spokesman said: "We only close the Orwell Bridge when it's essential for safety reasons.

"We are always looking for things we can do to improve the resilience of the road network and over the last 12 months we have been working with our partners in Suffolk and experts from City University to see if we can safely allow vehicles over the Orwell Bridge at higher wind speeds. We will provide an update for this work in due course."

The bridge was due to undergo a series of night closures this week for maintenance, but this has now been pushed back to November.

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