43783652 - orwell bridge in suffolk england spanning the river orwell

Orwell Bridge in Suffolk

A Suffolk MP has held “positive discussions” with Highways England about regular closures of the Orwell Bridge on the A14, after local businesses said it was costing them £1m each time.

The 40-year-old bridge carries 69,000 vehicles every day but high winds often lead to it being closed, impacting heavily on the local economy.

It was forced to close again on two consecutive nights last week due to wind speeds in excess of 50mph.

Paul Clement, CEO of business group Ipswich Central said: “Businesses, their customers and their staff continue to be united in their frustration at the continued closures of the bridge while other similar structures around the country remain open.

“We have calculated our businesses lose up to £1m every day the bridge is shut.

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“The current situation is just utterly ridiculous and doesn’t happen elsewhere.”

An aerodynamic study into the wind’s impact on the Orwell bridge originally aimed to be completed by October 2018, but it still has not been published.

However, local MP Tom Hunt said the confidential report, which will include solutions to the closures, will be released in the next few days.

Hunt added: “It’s very bad for the economy, very bad for local businesses; we are keenly waiting for this Highways England report that’s going to be published at the end of this month and we need answers.

“We need a firm plan to try and get us to a point where we don’t need to close the bridge to all vehicles when it’s windy.”