Just before the local elections in May, The Ipswich Society was invited to appear on BBC Look East alongside one of our local MPs, Ben Gummer. Ben was commenting on the inclusion of the Wet Dock crossing in the Local Transport Plan:
"A long term aspiration for Ipswich is a new Wet Dock crossing alongside future development (of the Island Site). This project would be largely funded by developers (of the Island Site)."
As is typical in media appearances, we were unable to convey the full range of points from our considered argument as to why this new road in unlikely to be built and its inclusion in the Local Transport Plan is political point scoring rather than practical or sensible.
It is believed by a considerable number of people (which increases when the dock gyratory roads grind to a halt) that a bridge over the lock will solve a hefty proportion of Ipswich's traffic problems - it won't. If a typical west-bound motorist's journey is down Bishop's Hill into Fore Street and eventually out of the gyratory on to Grafton Way and West End Road, then the Wet Dock crossing alternative would be driving south to Ship Launch Road, over the new bridge and back along Vernon Street to Stoke Bridge - almost three times as far. Not the natural choice in the daily commute.
Ipswich Waterfront is now home to some 500 marina berths with additional space for visiting yachts. These boats are currently able to come and go at any state of the tide and would not take kindly to a (height) restriction imposed by a new bridge. However, there are two alternatives. Build it higher with extended approach ramps or construct an opening bridge, one that is closed to traffic when a yacht passes - not a good idea in the rush hour.
Under the rules by which the Government decides which schemes, from across the nation, get priority of funding there are other Suffolk proposals much higher up the list than the Wet Dock crossing.
* A11 dualling, Barton Mills to Thetford (recently confirmed as desirable).
* Beccles Southern Relief Road.
* Copdock roundabout improvements. (This scheme is under way. paid for by the Port of Felixstowe but is limited to installing traffic lights.)
* A 12 Four villages Improvement. (The subject of the EADT campaign.)
* Lowestoft Northern Spine Road (phase 5).
* Ipswich - Fit for the 21st Century (funding now promised by Dept of Transport).
Overall transport improvements must be geared to increasing cycling and walking and reducing dependency on the private car, which is the basis for the Ipswich 21st Century scheme. So sorry, Ben, but a Wet Dock crossing is not on, even long term.
John Norman, Vice-Chairman