PCC calls on Highways Agency to improve A14

“A constructive and positive meeting” is how Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk described his meeting with the Highways Agency on Monday. (18 November)
In the meeting with the regional director of the Highways Agency, the county council and the Constabulary, Tim highlighted a number of recent incidents which have caused major disruption along the A14. Much of the focus of the meeting was on the Orwell Bridge, as an incident on the bridge causes traffic chaos not only on the A14 but across the whole of Ipswich when vehicles are diverted.
The PCC explained that he has allocated funds for a new Land Rover to be used on the A14 to help clear vehicles off the carriageway in an emergency, “We’re doing our bit, but we need the support of the Highways Agency and Suffolk County Council to really tackle the issues on this road of national importance,” explained Tim.
“Working together to avoid collisions in the first place is key to keeping the traffic moving and I am really pleased that the Highways Agency has agreed to address our concerns, “ said Tim. “They are going to work up plans for average speed cameras on the bridge and come back with a proposal by the end of January”.
“I do believe that reducing the speed limit, maybe to 60mph, and enforcing the limit with average speed cameras would be a practical solution, and one that the majority of Suffolk residents would endorse. One thing is certain, something needs to be done and I am pleased that the Highways Agency has signed up to look at possible solutions as a matter of urgency.”
The Highways Agency is also going to look at develop plans for the slip road out of the Shell service station on the west bound carriageway of the bridge at Nacton; the possibility of using local contractors such as farmers and hauliers to clear debris from the road and better use of the variable message signs along the Suffolk stretch of the A14 from Felixstowe to Newmarket.
Tim added, “The cost of the works on the A14 would be significant but this is put into context if it’s set against the cost of a major collision. A collision on a major road can cost in so many ways. There is an obvious cost to the victims and their families; for anyone caught up in the congestion, there is a cost in time and lost business and there is also a significant impact on emergency services. This culminates in a significant cost to the tax-payer, which for a fatal collision can be anything up to £1.5m.”
“Any hold-up on the A14 has a huge impact on the Suffolk and the UK 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.
“Cutting collisions is linked to cutting speed, and I believe our proposal for average speed cameras will improve the flow of traffic on the bridge which will have a positive benefit on the wider area.”
“I have been critical of the Highways Agency and their lack of urgency when things go wrong, but this was a very positive meeting. Everyone came away with a better understanding of the issues, with clear measurable actions to be achieved before our next meeting in the new year and a commitment to work together to find long-term solutions.” said Tim