The Orwell Bridge in Ipswich is expected to be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN
The Orwell Bridge is expected to close for the third time this winter as high winds are forecast again on Thursday morning.
The closure of the Orwell Bridge is likely to bring more traffic into Ipswich town centre. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN
The Met Office is predicting high winds of more than 50mph during the night through to Thursday lunchtime.
That has prompted Highways England to announce that the bridge is likely to shut at about midnight on Wednesday/Thursday – and that it will remain closed until the winds dropped. That almost certainly means it will be shut during the Thursday morning rush-hour.
The warning says high winds are expected to continue until 1pm on Thursday – although the re-opening of the bridge will depend on the speed of the wind on the structure.
It will be the third time this winter that the bridge has been closed because of high winds and the second time this year – it was closed on November 22 and on January 2.
Traffic on the Orwell Bridge. Stock image. Picture: ARCHANT
The A14 will be closed between the Copdock Mill and the Seven Hills interchanges. Traffic will not be able to drive along the A14 to the Wherstead Road junction or the Nacton Road junction.
A spokesman for Highways England confirmed the bridge would be completely shut to all traffic – he said it was not possible to only close it to lorries or high-sided vehicles.
He said: “We tried to do that at the Forth Bridge near Edinburgh, but that could only be advisory and a lorry driver decided to go over anyway and was blown over shutting the bridge for 80 hours.”
However the closure is set to hit the local economy hard. This month’s closure cost the Ipswich economy an estimated £1m according to Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter.
Ipswich central chairman Terry Baxter said the impact the bridge closure had on businesses was "unacceptable". Picture: LUCY TAYLOR
After the last closure he said: “Our early estimates suggest that the decisions taken by Highways East will have cost our businesses over £1 million in lost revenue and disruption. That is totally unacceptable.
“I was involved in discussions with the highways authority nearly a year ago and was assured that any decision to close the bridge would be needed ‘once in a blue moon’ – instead, it has shut three times [in the last year].
“This cannot go on.”
The Agency is also preparing to introduce new protocols about when the bridge should be closed and when it might reopen – they are due to be published next month.
Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore repeats call for fewer closures
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore was exasperated by the news that the Orwell Bridge is to close yet again because of high winds.
He accepted this was a safety issue – but said it showed the necessity for the authorities to work together to find alternative solutions to the problem.
He said: “We will have to put up with this, but there must be things that can be done – installing baffles on the bridge, bringing forward a northern by-pass, it is vital something is done.
“At least we know there are going to be problems. People can make arrangements. They can leave earlier for their journeys to work – some people can work from home.
“But this is not good enough because we know that when the bridge is closed it will have a serious impact. This is an issue that needs a national government response. I am pleased Chris Grayling mentioned it last week. It is not just a local issue – it is a national issue.”
Wherstead Road traffic problems ease
There was some good news for drivers in the south west of Ipswich as the roadworks which have caused major problems in Wherstead Road were completed three days early.
And planned overnight engineering work which would have shut off the Shotley peninsula from Ipswich between 7pm and 5am every night this week have been postponed.
The Wherstead Road gas main works were due to continue until Thursday, but the work was finished by Monday afternoon allowing the temporary traffic lights to be removed.
And night-time drivers heading to Shotley found the Strand remained open between Bourne Bridge and the Suffolk Food Hall despite overnight closures being announced to repair potholes in the road surface.
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said some of the equipment needed for the work was not available, so it had been delayed for a short time.
Please Share Update #A14 ##OrwellBridge#Ipswich it looks like will be closed from midnight tonight. It is expected to remain closed until tomorrow afternoon due to high winds keep following us for updates @sufnoftravel
Coming night as from 04h00 the wind will increase to high levels. Delays might occur due to suspension of our operations. The weather forecast shows that high windspeeds are to be expected until at least Thursday 14h00.
When delay occurs we will inform you accordingly.
Marketing & Communications
APM Terminals Rotterdam Nederland
Due to the expected weather forecast, we decided to close our terminal as from tomorrow morning 06h00. Both our landside and waterside operations will be suspended. We expect to restart our operations again around 12h00.
We will keep you informed if there are any changes occur in terms of time.
Marketing & Communications
APM Terminals Rotterdam Nederland
Orwell Bridge expected to be open on Thursday after wind fears ease
PUBLISHED: 16:03 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 17 January 2018
The Orwell Bridge in Ipswich is now expected to remain open on Thursday. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN
The Orwell Bridge is now expected to remain open on Thursday after the threat of high winds overnight eased.
However drivers are being advised to be very careful during tomorrow’s rush-hour – especially those driving high-sided vehicles.
The news came from Highways England on Wednesday afternoon after a series of meetings to discuss the latest advice from the Met Office.
On Tuesday Highways England had warned that the bridge was likely to be shut from midnight on Wednesday to lunchtime on Thursday because of the threat of 60mph winds.
During Wednesday the Met Office said the threat of high winds was confined to 3am to 9am on Thursday – and the maximum gusts might not be as great as originally expected.
Highways England met to discuss the situation on Wednesday lunchtime and later announced they expect the bridge to stay open. It is understood to have been a very fine decision and highway engineers will be studying weather reports throughout the night and be prepared to close the A14 if necessary.
A spokesman for the agency said: “Highways England will continue to monitor wind speeds closely and will make any decision about whether to close the bridge based on the safety of road users.
“Weather warnings have been issued for the region with the storm due to travel from west to east. Orwell Bridge usually closes when wind speeds hit 50mph as a cross wind, or 60mph for east/west winds.”
Drivers planning to travel on Orwell Bridge were being encouraged to plan their journey in advance and check the latest weather and traffic conditions along the route.
The agency said drivers should be aware of sudden gusts of wind, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space.
Meanwhile park rangers and managers in Ipswich will be checking the town’s parks at the start of the day to decide whether they can open as normal.
The borough had planned to keep them closed until the storm had blown through, but after the warnings eased they decided to wait and seen what the situation is before making a decision.
In any event it is hoped that the parks should be able to open by mid-morning when the storm is expected to have blown through.
People warned not to travel as weather warning upgraded
BY · PUBLISHED · UPDATED
Police are warning people not to travel in areas covered by an upgraded severe weather warning after 200 motorists were left stranded. Heavy snow and ice caused treacherous driving conditions and brought the M74 in Scotland to a standstill. The Met Office has issued a fresh amber “be prepared” warning of heavy snow for southern Scotland and northern England on Wednesday into Thursday.
Dozens of schools have been closed in parts of Scotland, while public transport has been disrupted by the weather.
? Another AMBER SNOW warning issued from @metoffice from 9pm TONIGHT (Wed 17th) until 5am TOMO (Thurs 18th) for SW Scotland, Lothian Borders, Strathclyde Not sure what an AMBER warning means?
Scotland’s transport minister Humza Yousaf told MSPs at Holyrood that following a new Met Office amber warning for Wednesday evening, Police Scotland were upgrading their travel warning from stage three to a stage four. He said: “That in practice means that all travel should be avoided on those parts of the trunk road affected by the amber warning, namely south and south-west Scotland for the duration of the amber warning.”
Police Scotland closed parts of the M74 in Lanarkshire in both directions due to wintry conditions for a number of hours overnight. The road later reopened.
Watch the WALL ??…runaway truck!lucky nobody was injured!This could have been alot worse if it didn’t hit the wall! Posted by Niki Blackhall on Monday, January 15, 2018
Elsewhere a runaway lorry slid down a snowy street then crashed into a fence on Tuesday morning in Glenmavis, North Lanarkshire.
Witness Niki Blackhall, who filmed the incident, said: “The men in the truck got out to help the crashed cars and the truck slid away. “It hit our wall. I’m just glad nobody was injured and the wall stopped the truck from sliding down the hill, as the outcome would have been a lot worse.”
Mountain rescue teams were drafted in to check on drivers on the M74 overnight, many of whom were stuck in their vehicles for several hours. Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has apologised to those stranded in their vehicles overnight.
This shows how difficult it was clearing snow during the night. Snow was falling as quick as snow plows could clear it.
Sam Sykes, a surveyor from Biggar, South Lanarkshire, said he was stuck on the M74 for around 12 hours – from 6pm on Tuesday until around 5.30am on Wednesday. The 25-year-old was travelling from Dalry in Ayrshire to Biggar after work.
He said: “The length of time, the cold and the uncertainty of when it would start again was the worst part.” Mat Jackson, 29, a product manager with Siemens, arrived home in Manchester at around 11.30am on Wednesday – having left Glasgow at 3.20pm on Tuesday. He told the Press Association: “Every time gritters went by you thought ‘here we go’ but the snow just came down harder, it was that thick you couldn’t see in front of you.”
Police declared a critical incident and said that more than 200 people were stranded.
All schools in the Borders were closed due to the weather while 16 secondary schools, 58 primaries and 44 nurseries in the Highlands were shut. Around 20 schools in Dumfries and Galloway and 28 schools and nurseries in South Lanarkshire were also closed. All prelim exams scheduled to take place in North Lanarkshire secondary schools on Thursday have also been postponed.
Public Health England issued cold weather alerts and health warnings in light of the cold weather, urging people to take extra care. The Met Office amber warning advises that travel disruption is likely, with a risk that some vehicles may be stranded. The warning, which runs from 9pm on Wednesday until 5am on Thursday, says that 3-8cm of fresh snow is likely to accumulate widely, with up to 20cm over high ground.
Lorries were destroyed in a fire aboard a passenger liner on its way to Harwich International Port this morning.
Harwich port. Picture: ARCHANT
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service was called at 4.20am to the port in Parkeston Quay, after being alerted by the Coastguard that there was a fire aboard a 400-passenger ship, the Stena Britannica, due to dock at Harwich at 5am.
A spokesman from the fire service said the fire was found in a refrigerator lorry on a lower deck and had spread to a number of surrounding vehicles.
Several lorries were destroyed as a result and the ship suffered smoke damage.
Incident commander Lee Lucas said: “As the fire was on a lower deck of the ship and in a confined space the area had become smoke logged and was difficult to access.
Hi Matthew, the fire was extinguished by crew and the vessel
proceeded to Harwich where passengers disembarked. No injuries to any persons.
“Our firefighters worked with the ship’s crew and the Port Authority to organise freight to be removed to allow access to tackle the fire.
“Once onboard firefighters began tackling the fire in sections and brought it under control quickly despite difficult conditions.”
The flames were put out by 7am, but remained on board to ventilate the vessel and damp down hotspots.
At 10.15am the vehicles involved were taken off the ship while firefighters continued to work at the scene.
A spokeswoman from Stena Line said: “Stena Line confirms that an incident occurred on Stena Britannica early this morning 17 January while en route from Hoek van Holland to Harwich, when a fire started in a truck of a customer in the lowerhold (deck 1) of the vessel.
“The fire was extinguished by crew and the vessel proceeded to Harwich where passengers disembarked.
“No injuries to any persons. As per our procedures, the fire department was called onsite.”
An investigation is set to get underway into the cause.
A fire service spokesman said that while there was nothing to suggest it was suspicious, nothing has been ruled out at this stage.
An East of England Ambulance Service spokeswoman said that it was called around 6.20am and sent two rapid response vehicles, two specialist ambulance units (hazard area response teams) and an ambulance officer.
“The situation is ongoing,” the spokeswoman said.
“At present there are no reported injuries and we are there to support emergency service operations.”