Consultation over new Lowestoft road crossing
- Credit: Nick Butcher
People in Lowestoft are being urged to make their views known on multi-million pound plans for a new road crossing over Lake Lothing.
A major public consultation will be launched later this month on three options for a crossing designed to ease the town's long-standing congestion problems.
Details of the Suffolk County Council consultation were announced this week – with an invitation to people to make their opinions known.
But as the plans were unveiled, there were renewed calls for work to start now, instead of waiting for up to 10 years for the project to begin.
Next week, businessman Peter Colby and Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney Bob Blizzard are hosting a public meeting where they will set out the potential benefits of a rival £30m scheme to build a tidal barrage crossing over Lake Lothing.
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They claim it is a 'workable, cost-effective solution' that will address flooding and traffic problems without the need for lengthy studies by consultants. The county council's crossing options will be displayed from June 20 at the 60+ Club in Clapham Road South, with people encouraged to have their say, and they will then be on show at the Marina Centre.
The display will include the three options for a new crossing: west of the Bascule bridge, further up Lake Lothing at Silo Quay and at the adjoining Brooke and Business and Industrial Park.
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Graham Newman, Suffolk cabinet member for roads and transport, said: 'We've been working with Waveney District Council, Waveney MP Peter Aldous and other partners to review Lowestoft's roads and transport infrastructure and a new Lake Lothing crossing is a fundamental part of that work, as detailed in the town's transport and infrastructure prospectus.
'A lot of detailed work has already been undertaken and the people of Lowestoft will have an opportunity to have their say on the proposals and find out more about the different options.
'Lowestoft has long needed a new crossing and we continue to make progress towards delivering it.'
Once a 'preferred broad location' has been identified, there will then be further technical work and another consultation to look at specific design options, with a final report expected by the end of the year.
The option to build a crossing by the A12 Bascule bridge could see the 42-year-old structure removed, with traffic diverted away from the Station Square area.
Colin Law, leader of Waveney District Council, said: 'We want as many people as possible to take a look at all three options in detail and express their views.
'The preferred option has to be right for the residents and businesses of the town and this is a real opportunity for everyone to see the three ideas for themselves.'
The second option – for a new crossing by Silo Quay – proposes a similar route to Mr Colby whose tidal barrage crossing idea is based on Dutch polder dams. It would allow a continuous traffic flow as it would not have to lift to allow ships to pass.
On Wednesday at 7pm, Mr Colby and Mr Blizzard will be staging a third public meeting at the Victoria Hotel from 7pm meeting to discuss the tidal barrage plan.
Mr Colby, who hails from Lowestoft and runs Sprowston-based Peter Colby Commercials Ltd, said: 'We want to show how this proposal can solve Lowestoft's transport and flooding problems in one scheme at the lowest cost.
'The crossing is the key to economic regeneration and employment in the town. But to get that crossing we need people to show support by turning up on Wednesday.'
Mr Blizzard added: 'A third crossing is the single most important issue facing Lowestoft. We want to make sure that the people can have their say on the best location for a crossing.
'We also want to explain the advantages of Peter Colby's innovative barrage/crossing proposal –in the best location.'
Mr Colby's plan this week received the support of the Simon Tobin, UKIP's prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Tobin and UKIP members carried out a traffic survey by the Bascule bridge and recorded 1,900 northbound cars passing in the space of an hour.
Mr Tobin estimates that motorists waste £1 of petrol on every journey due to delays linked to the Bascule bridge and surrounding road system.
He said: 'I fully support Peter Colby, A third crossing is critical to addressing the issue now.'
The council's options for the new crossing were originally detailed in the Lowestoft Transport and Infrastructure Prospectus, which was launched in 2012.
The consultation follows a cross-party resolution, made by the county council in December, to support a feasibility study, which is being carried out by urban planning and engineering experts WSP.
?The crossing options will be on display at Lowestoft 60+ Club on Clapham Road South on Friday, June 20 from 12pm to 8pm and on Saturday, June 21 from 10am to 4pm. There will be technical officers present to answer questions and a questionnaire will be available. From Monday, June 23, the display will move to the Marina Customer Service Centre for a further four weeks. The consultation will also go online at www.suffolk.gov.uk