74.1. Suzanne Buck, Suffolk County Council, provided a presentation on the Upper Orwell Crossings and confirmed that the benefits of the crossings included a reduction in journey times, improved reliability and significant savings. Following the previous update provided to the South West Area Committee, the grounds investigation work undertaken in the river had now been completed and the samples taken would be tested to check the strength of the material to inform the design of the crossings.
74.2. The alignment for the crossings had been announced online and would be as follows: the main crossing would connect to the existing highway at the Rapier Street roundabout on Wherestead Road and at a new junction north of Cliff Lane on Holywells Road. The second crossing would provide a new vehicular link to the Wet Dock Island Site, accessed from Felaw Street and the third crossing would be a refurbishment of the existing swing bridge over the lock for use for cyclist and pedestrian use. The main crossing would affect the Big Box Storage company and adjustments had been made to ensure there would be minimal impact on any nearby residential properties.
74.3. The bridge would not be as high as originally anticipated and there would be a number of businesses which would require access to be retained. A key part of the crossings would be the connectivity and ensuring that this would tie in to the existing network.
74.4. A number of public information days of an informal nature would be held between now and the formal consultation later in the year for any concerns to be addressed. The design visualisation would be announced in Spring 2018 and formal consultation would take place in early Autumn. Following this, construction would begin in 2020.
74.5. A resident asked if the possibility of building a tunnel had been considered. The Officer confirmed that a tunnel had been considered as part of the initial business case however, due to the practicalities of building a tunnel, this had been removed as an option before costs had been considered. With regards to noise pollution and the crossings, noise would be modelled and would be mitigated. There were a number of ways to minimise noise and this would be looked at as part of the planning process.
74.6. A resident asked what the frequency of lifting the bridge would be and if there would be a toll. The officer confirmed that there would be no tolls for the road or underneath the bridge. A boat survey would be undertaken to consider the impact of opening and closing the bridge on both traffic and boat users however, it was anticipated that the bridge would not open during peak traffic times.
74.7. Councillor Hall advised that he was concerned about the impact that vehicle noise could have on people living in the nearby flats and how residents could be affected by this. The impact of vehicle and noise pollution was also a concern. The Officer advised that Ipswich Borough Council’s Environmental Health Officers’ had installed additional monitoring air quality points along Wherstead Road and this data would be used as a baseline for the air quality and noise modelling which would take place. It was confirmed that transport modelling would also be undertaken so that a clear understanding of the different routes vehicle users used could be considered.
74.8. Councillor Fern asked for further information regarding the 20% improvement in journey times. The Officer confirmed that the journey times considered had been peak period journeys where different origination points across the town had been looked at. At the moment all the traffic tunnelled through the Star Lane gyratory and this information had been used to assess what the journey time savings would be. This included both cars and commercial vehicles. The implementation of the bridge would relieve the congestion going east to west.
74.9. Councillor Fern advised that there were a large number of homes where the roundabout was likely to be placed and had the impact on residents been considered. The Officer reaffirmed that both noise and air quality would be modelled and that the wider impacts of the crossings would be looked at.
74.10. A resident thanked Suffolk County Council for keeping residents informed with regards to Upper Orwell Crossings.
74.11. Councillor P Smart asked for further clarification with regards to the traffic modelling and the possibility that an extra bridge could bring more traffic and pollution into the town and put more pressure on junctions. The Officer explained that the modelling had addressed existing east west traffic and there would be changes in behaviour and how/where people drove.