A14 Orwell Bridge to stay open with reduced speed limit during high winds
A major road bridge that has been closed 20 times since 2013 will stay open in high winds.
Highways England has said the A14 Orwell Bridge, near Ipswich, will not shut when winds hit 50mph (80km/h), as it currently does, but instead stay open with a reduced speed limit.
The new measures, which will see the speed limit drop from 60mph (96km/h) to 50mph, are due to be in place by March.
Highways England said the bridge might still close in “extreme situations”.
The bridge is closed to prevent the risk of high-sided vehicles being blown over, but traffic has to then be diverted through Ipswich, which creates huge tailbacks.
Martin Fellows, regional director for Highways England in the East of England, said: “By running the traffic at lower speeds, we will be able to ensure that they [vehicles] can cross the bridge safely, and safety is our priority.
“The speed limit is open to movement as it depends on the direction of the wind, so what we are trying to do is put that speed limit in place.
“As we build our knowledge and understanding, we may be able to flex that situation and to allow traffic to cross in different conditions.
“That will mean that we keep the bridge open as much as we possibly can.”
Ipswich Central, which represents local businesses, has estimated closure of the bridge costs the town’s economy £1m per day.
Tom Hunt, Conservative MP for Ipswich, said he wanted the work completed “as soon as possible” and was disappointed at the length of time it has taken to make the announcement.
“I do think this has taken far too long,” he said.