Lowestoft crossing plans to go to public consultation
06:30 14 March 2014
Long-awaited plans for a new road crossing over Lake Lothing took a major step forward this week when it was revealed that a public consultation is to be launched on three potential schemes.
Suffolk County Council announced that proposals for a new crossing are to be developed by specialist consultants, with people in the Lowestoft area then getting a chance to air their views.
The three options for a new crossing include one close to the A12 Bascule bridge and two further up Lake Lothing – the first by Silo Quay and the other adjoining the Brooke Business and Industrial Park.
But one of the options could lead to the Bascule bridge being removed – meaning those who insist a third road crossing is essential to end long-standing congestion in the town may be left disappointed.
In May, people will have a chance to comment on the crossing proposals which are being drawn up by urban and engineering experts WSP. A preferred scheme will then be chosen in October and a final report prepared for the council by the end of year – even though no funding has yet been applied for or secured.
Ironically, the news comes just days after work by the county council to improve the A12-Commercial Road junction caused major tailbacks in Lowestoft – prompting renewed calls for a solution to the town’s traffic congestion.
Mark Bee, leader of the county council, said: “This is an important milestone in our work to improve Lowestoft’s road network and the way people move around the town. By appointing WSP we are now able to move forward quickly – developing and consulting on real proposals.
“We have been working with Waveney District Council, Waveney MP Peter Aldous and other partners to review Lowestoft’s roads and transport infrastructure and a new river crossing is a fundamental part of that work.”
If the preferred option for a new crossing is the one just to the west of the existing Bascule bridge it could open the way, through the Lowestoft Transport and Infrastructure Prospectus, for the removal of the 42-year-old structure.
The prospectus, which features short to long-term aims for the town, includes three options for a new crossing by the Bascule bridge – with two retaining it and one suggesting it is replaced by a four-lane Bascule bridge.
Colin Law, leader of Waveney District Council, said: “It is absolutely imperative that we deliver the right outcome for Lowestoft and the people of the town will play an important role in the development of a new river crossing.
“As leader of Waveney I am absolutely determined to see this through and I am really looking forward to working closely with WSP on this landmark scheme.”
In December, there was cross-party agreement at a meeting of Suffolk Council County to commission a feasibility study into a new crossing – resulting in WSP being instructed to start work.
Yesterday’s news was also welcomed by Mark Pendlington, the incoming chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and representative on the Lowestoft transport group.
He said: “A new Lake Lothing crossing has been something people have wanted, and Lowestoft has needed, for some time. So it’s fantastic that plans are now being drawn up and residents and business owners will get an opportunity to see and comment on them. I urge everyone to take part and have their say.
“Making sure Lowestoft has a viable roads network, fit to meet the needs of business and of a growing population, is a top priority.”
Richard Perkins, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s representative on the prospectus group, said he was pleased the work had been commissioned to tackle infrastructure inadequacies in the town.
Included in the Lowestoft Transport and Infrastructure Prospectus is a scheme drawn up by businessman Peter Colby to build a tidal barrage and road crossing across Lake Lothing which would provide a continuous traffic flow and provide improved flood defences.
Although Mr Colby was pleased progress was being made on the crossing plans, he was sceptical that the county council-led scheme would ever come to fruition.
He said: We need to see action, not words. I think this will end up being kicked into the long grass. Lowestoft needs a third crossing sooner rather than later.”
Bob Blizzard, Labour’s parliamentary prospective candidate for Waveney, supports Mr Colby’s barrage plan. He said: “It has three benefits – it would be a new crossing, would provide flood defences and keep traffic moving all the time as no bridge would have to raised and lowered.”
As part of its work, WSP will also carry out environmental impact assessments on the crossing proposals.