Agenda item

Upper Orwell Crossings Project Update

Minutes:

71.1.    The Chair introduced Ms Suzanne Buck, Project Manager for the Upper Orwell Crossings, who gave an update with the following key points:

·           Benefits of the project included a reduction in journey times through the town centre, improved connectivity, reduction in congestion, new sustainable routes for cyclists and pedestrians and savings relating to shortened journey times during peak hours.

·           Ground investigation works in the river were complete and had confirmed the location and depth of chalk.

·           Details of the alignment had been announced: the main crossing would connect to the highway at the Rapier Street roundabout on Wherstead Road on the west side of the river and to a new junction on Holywells Road, north of Cliff Lane, on the east side of the river.

·           A public information event had been held at DanceEast on 6 March 2018 with over 400 people attending throughout the day.

·           Engagement would take place with interested parties [e.g. Friends of Holywells Park, Ipswich Society, Engineering Society, Chamber of Commerce] and further informal public information events would take place leading up to the formal consultation period.

·           Focus groups had already commenced with people from the Cliff Lane area to help understand local concerns and how they could best be addressed.

·           The design visualisation would be announced in Spring 2018 and the formal consultation would commence in Autumn 2018; if consent was granted, construction would commence in 2020.

·           Further project information could be found on the following website: www.suffolk.gov.uk/upperorwellcrossings, along with contact information.

71.2.    Local resident: The Cliff Lane Focus Group met this morning, but needs more local residents to get involved.  The Head Teacher of Cliff Lane Primary School was very concerned about the impact of traffic on road safety on Cliff Lane.  The transport modelling is not accessible to the public – how can we look at this information?
The transport model has been updated following the announcement of the alignment and could now start being used to predict traffic scenarios.  The outputs from the modelling would not be available until at least June 2018, but would be published on the Upper Orwell Crossings Project website in time for the public consultation.

71.3.    Local resident: What is being done to address the Wherstead Road and Nacton Road junctions on the A14 as they are already at full capacity?
The A14 junctions were the responsibility of Highways England.  Suffolk County Council (SCC) had submitted a funding bid for a package of improvements to the A14 Nacton/Wherstead/Copdock/Seven Hills junctions, which if successful, would be delivered by Highways England.

71.4.    Local resident: You are predicting £6.5million of savings by taking traffic off the A14 and keeping traffic moving when the Orwell Bridge is closed.  Is Suffolk basically paying for a bypass to the bypass?
The £6.5million was not a saving for Highways England; it represented the GVA uplift in terms of benefits to Ipswich, e.g. increasing the number of quality jobs, environmental and regeneration benefits.   

71.5.    Local resident: How can you predict when the bridge section would need to be opened to let port traffic to come through when the arrival of port traffic can be unpredictable?
When designing the bridge, there had to be a balance between the level of incline that would allow pedestrians and cyclists to be able to use the crossing and the bridge being high enough to accommodate the height of most sea vessels and therefore limit the number of times the bridge section has to be opened.  According to the boat survey, 70-80% of sea vessels using the port would be able to pass under the crossing, and there would be an opening protocol put in place for those vessels that could not.

71.6.    Local resident: Where will the additional traffic go when it gets to the end of Landseer Road?
The key routes would include Landseer Road, Cliff Lane and Wherstead Road; thereafter traffic might take different routes to its destination and this would be informed by the transport model. The impact on key junctions would be considered and how best to mitigate this.

71.7.    Councillor Cook: The business case in December 2015 indicated an hourly increase of 1,000+ vehicles along Cliff Lane and Landseer Road.  When the bridge section has to be opened, there could be up to 2,000 vehicles per hour converging on the crossing, which will result in queueing cars up Cliff Lane, potentially as far as Greenwich.
The overall increase in traffic was unlikely to be that high and the bridge would not be opened on a whim as vessels could be held back in a lock.  Signage on the highways network would display how long before the bridge section was due to be opened.

71.8.    Councillor Cook: Will the night time restrictions on HGVs on certain roads still continue after the crossings are implemented?
Yes, there were no plans to remove these restrictions.

71.9.    Local resident: Is the purpose of this crossing to provide a route when the Orwell Bridge is closed in high winds and will the new crossing also have to be closed in high winds?
The proposed crossing was not intended as a ‘spare’ bridge for when the Orwell Bridge was closed.  The main crossing was half the height of the Orwell Bridge and further up the estuary, so therefore less likely to be closed in high winds; the impact of high winds would be taken into consideration as part of the design.

71.10.Councillor Barber: There is concern about the level of air pollution increasing as a result of queuing traffic whilst the bridge section is opened to allow sea vessels through.
Air quality monitoring tubes were installed over a year ago, in conjunction with the Council’s Environmental Health Team, at various locations.  An increase in traffic alone would not necessary result in poor air quality, other environmental factors need to be taken into consideration, e.g. corridor effect of neighbouring buildings.  Air quality and noise monitoring was part of the planning process and this development should not result in creating any additional air quality management areas (AQMAs).  The proposed crossings should actually improve the air quality around the Star Lane gyratory system.

71.11.County Councillor Gaylard: If Toller Road is to be closed off, how will lorries accessing the port leave the port?
Traffic would use Patteson Road and Cliff Road instead.

71.12.County Councillor Gaylard:  Without Toller Road, there would be increased HGV traffic along John Street, Patteson Road and Cliff Road; what will be done to mitigate the impact of this traffic to local residents?
Now that the alignment was known, the updated model would be used to look at the key junctions and the potential impact and how best to mitigate this.

71.13.Local resident: One of the objectives was to improve the docks, which would result in more industrial areas and further HGV traffic into Ipswich.
No new port areas were due to be developed and the regeneration of the island site would not be for industrial use. Predicted growth across all sectors had been taken into account where known in line with the Ipswich Local Plan.

71.14.Local resident: Will there be bus use on the new crossing? Currently Foxhall Road is often congested; will the new crossing reduce this congestion?
This matter has already been raised at the Cliff Lane Focus Group for consideration.