PCC meets with Highways Agency for A14 update

Tim Passmore met with the Highways Agency (HA) this week for their regular update on the A14.

East Regional Director of the Highways Agency Catherine Brookes updated the meeting, attended by Suffolk County Councillor Graham Newman, cabinet member for roads and planning; Cllr Philip Smart Ipswich Borough’s portfolio holder for environment & transport; Nick Burfield from the Chamber of Commerce; Peter Martin, Federation of Small Businesses and Chief Inspector Chris Spinks responsible for roads policing in the county.

Over the past two years the PCC has built a strong relationship with the Highways Agency. Top of the agenda is the need to address the impact that collisions on the Orwell Bridge have on the A14 and the wider Ipswich area. A reduced speed limit was considered the best option to reduce the number of hold-ups on the bridge and this was agreed by HA, the PCC, the County Council and the Constabulary last year.

Earlier this year, as part of the process to introduce the reduced speed limit the HA asked for public views and received 20 individual objections. These objections halted the process in the short term while the HA considered the responses. Tim Passmore was quoted at the time saying “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.”

At the meeting on Monday, Catherine Brookes explained the process that needs to be adhered to implement a speed reduction on the bridge. She said: “Many of the objections argued against a 50mph and 60mph speed limit for the bridge, so we now have to 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.”

Work is being carried out by the Highways Agency to consider a package of measures and which will be fed back to stakeholders and local drivers in due course. A full economic impact assessment will be carried out, not just on the A14 but on the impact that closures on the bridge have on Ipswich and the surrounding villages.

Tim Passmore concluded, “Any hold-up on the bridge has a major impact on the area. This affects individuals going about their daily business, the local and national economy. The A14 is a route of local and national importance and we all need to keep the pressure on to sort this out. “