For many months, as editor of the Ipswich Society Newsletter, I have been anxious to cover in its pages the subject of Travel Ipswich. Many people are bewildered by the reasoning behind some of the changes to our road junctions and, after a number of years, the question in the above title is being asked. Our Chairman has had extensive talks with SCC Highways engineers (more of this soon, I hope) and we are still unable to fully explain and examine the outcomes of the scheme on behalf of Society members. Given that Travel Ipswich was last reported in the Newsletter long before I took over the editorship, I felt that members would appreciate an update.
However, as each issue's deadline came and went, it was decided to wait until project completion before covering the scheme. This major project is intended to tackle the problems caused by traffic flows in relation to pedestrians, public transport vehicles and cycles in our town. The initial Government funding for the scheme was secured in 2010 and the work started in the following year. The Travel Ipswich website (www.travelipswich.co.uk) currently states that the whole scheme will be completed by autumn 2015. Er...
Spring 2016 is apparently now intended to be the deadline for the work on the two crucial, remaining junctions as part of Travel Ipswich: the Major's Corner interchange and Woodbridge Road/Argyle Street, one of our busiest junctions during rush hours.
Travel Ipswich has the potential to ease traffic flow through the town, but we are unable to assess its impact until all the component improvements are in place. What tends to happen at the moment is that, at busy times, all the traffic tends to come towards the centre resulting in gridlock. The whole point of 'signalising' all our major junctions in a co-ordinated way is to enable traffic to come in gradually so that our walkers, buses and cyclists, as well as cars and other traffic, can move freely through the town centre.
This scheme is seriously delayed in its completion - something which will require examination and explanation by Suffolk County Council, the highways authority which is managing it. Ipswich residents should be, on the one hand, very pleased to have secured major funding from central Government (£18m of the total £21.5 million) to improve our over-burdened infrastructure but, on the other hand, important questions do need to be asked.