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Anger as bascule bridge causes more delays

PUBLISHED: 07:18 19 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:37 06 July 2010

A raised bascule bridge caused more delays

A raised bascule bridge caused more delays

Port bosses in Lowestoft last night insisted they were taking action to try to reduce the number of times the town's bascule bridge is raised during rush-hour periods.

Port bosses in Lowestoft last night insisted they were taking action to try to reduce the number of times the town's bascule bridge is raised during rush-hour periods.

Long queues developed across north and south Lowestoft yesterday morning when the bridge was raised to allow a ship through at 8.15am.

Drivers also suffered delays on Thursday when the bridge went up to allow a large vessel access to Lake Lothing at about 8am.

Motorists said the lifting of the bridge yesterday added about 20 minutes to the journey time from Norwich to Lowestoft town centre and Waveney MP Bob Blizzard called for a sensible approach to letting shipping through during the rush hour.

In response, Associated British Ports (ABP) revealed it had just issued a notice to mariners informing them of new restrictions, which come into force on June 1, on times when the bridge should not be raised.

These are 8.15am-9am, noon-12.30pm and 5pm-5.45pm. However, a spokesman warned that there may be occasions when the bridge has to be opened during restricted hours.

He added: “The Port of Lowestoft has a responsibility to allow vessels access. At the same time, we do understand the impact that opening the bridge has on traffic in the town and so have introduced some basic guidelines to help minimise the impact of bridge openings by avoiding peak hours wherever possible.

“A vessel may sometimes require the bridge to be opened during restricted hours due to tides, draught restrictions or operational needs, but we seek to avoid this if we can.”

Mr Blizzard welcomed ABP's announcement and urged officials to be “robust” in ensuring shipping complies with the new restrictions.

He added: “There certainly ought to be a strong message in terms of smaller vessels. There's nothing more frustrating than when you get a smaller vessel and the bridge goes up.

“I hope they will work with the vessels to make sure they don't turn up at the wrong time.”

Mr Blizzard has fought a long-running campaign for a third crossing for Lowestoft, insisting the town's existing bridges cannot cope with the weight of traffic driving through Lowestoft every day.

Hopes for a new £38m bridge received a major boost last year when the project made its way on to a list of schemes that could get funding from the East of England Regional Assembly after 2013.

cOMMENT- Page 18

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