The proposal for an Ipswich Northern Route has caused a number of members to write to me, suggesting that the Ipswich Society take a stand against the proposal (particularly those members who live in the rural area that is most likely to be affected) and by some who think we should support the Suffolk County Council proposal believing that a new road will go some way to relieving Ipswich of its traffic problems.
Even the politicians are split with the current MP Sandy Martin and the Conservative candidate Tom Hunt both supporting the proposal with local MPs Therese Coffey and Dan Poulter both against.
The first fact to note is that a new road won't make a great deal of difference to central Ipswich's traffic overload. Suffolk County Council's own figures, released as part of the case for the new road, suggest that it will make less than a 2% difference to traffic in Star Lane. Importantly, traffic from the south will still queue at the Copdock junction (junction 55) and to get off the A14 at junction 53 (ASDA).
Where it will make a difference is in providing a direct line between Needham Market and Martlesham, for onward travel to the Suffolk Coast and the Port of Felixstowe. It is the latter that makes the strategic case stack up: the A14, and particularly the Orwell Bridge, are frequently at capacity resulting in stationary or slow moving traffic.
There is no case for building a new road ‘just in case' the Orwell Bridge is closed. Such events are still, thankfully, so infrequent as not to be economically significant, (you may not agree if you've been caught up in the gridlock that occurs in Ipswich when all of the A14 traffic has to find an alternative route through town).
What I haven't been able to find is an ‘Origin and Destination' survey of motorists who are likely to switch to the new route. The consultation document suggests journey times between Needham Market and Adastral Park (for example) will be reduced but it doesn't know how many people currently make this journey.
Finally, there is the thorny subject of cost and how we are going to pay for it. I'll not speculate on the total cost or by how much the estimate will increase during the life of the project but Suffolk County Council see the majority of the finance coming from developers, building new homes north of Ipswich (and serviced by the new road). Estimates vary but that could mean between 15,000 and 20,000 new homes. (There are currently 60,000 houses in Ipswich).
You will find enclosed within this Newsletter a four-page insert, our response to the Consultation which was recently carried out by Suffolk County Council. It is different to most in that it is based on a POPE (Post Opening Project Evaluation) for the A120 Braintree-to- Stansted dual carriageway. You might be able to draw parallels between what has happened around this road and the likely scenario north of Ipswich if the new road goes ahead.