Was up on the Orwell Bridge last night with the Highways England teams installing the new electronic signs and cameras to enable the new 40mph to be be implemented and enforced during periods of high winds to end the bridge closures.
Work started at the end of January and is scheduled to end the end of next month. Unfortunately last week work had to stop on site due to the freezing weather, the pipes in the porta cabins actually froze.
The current 60mph signs are being taken down and replaced with over 20 new electronic signs that will ordinarily show 60pmh but 40mph when wind speeds are high. A new set of speed cameras also need to be introduced on the bridge to enforce the 40mph, the current cameras used to enforce the 60pmh can’t be used to do this. All of this does mean that the works will take longer than all of us would like because of the new cables that need to be introduced (this is the work that I saw taking place last night).
I thanked the teams working on the project who are often working through pretty tough conditions on the top of the bridge but made it clear to Highways England officials that its both my expectation, and my constituents expectation that there are no more slippages with the timeframe for introducing these measures and it really does need to be sorted by the end of March.
Last night the westward direction side of the bridge was closed, many of you will have seen that this decision was taken reluctantly after concerns were raised about the safety of workers as some drivers were not respecting the temporarily speed limit along the bridge during the evening hours where the installations of the new measures were taking place.
It’s been a long journey to get here. Far too long in my view but we are where we are and I’m pleased that a solution to the frequent closures of the bridge very much appears to be at hand here. As we look to get the local economy going post the lockdown the last thing we need is more closures of the bridge that are thought to cost the local economy £1 million per day.
Also managed to actually get inside the bridge for a bit of a walkabout.