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Third crossing in sight

PUBLISHED: 09:04 14 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:47 05 July 2010

CALLS to solve one of Lowestoft's oldest traffic problems took a major step forward this week.

After years of campaigning proposals for a third crossing have made it on to a list of schemes, which could get cash in the future from the East of England Regional Assembly (Eera).

CALLS to solve one of Lowestoft's oldest traffic problems took a major step forward this week.

After years of campaigning proposals for a third crossing have made it on to a list of schemes, which could get cash in the future from the East of England Regional Assembly (Eera).

With officials set to meet on Monday to discuss the regional transport forum, there was another boost as 1st East and the Highways Agency have funded a feasibility study for the crossing.

And today Waveney MP, Bob Blizzard will be hosting a third crossing location study business liaison forum meeting with the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce, at Carlton Manor.

At this meeting, representatives from Faber Maunsell - the consultants who will be carrying out the third crossing feasibility study - will talk about the work they are planning to do. And views of those present will also be sought surrounding the location of the crossing.

“This is the vital first step towards achieving the goal that we all desire,” Mr Blizzard told The Journal.

With plans for a third crossing of Lake Lothing having been first mooted at the end of the first world war in 1918, the latest development has been seen as moving things forward in the right direction.

Next week, Eera will look at major scheme priorities for the Highways Agency and Suffolk County Council. And with the existing bascule and Mutford lock bridges largely labelled by locals as insufficient for the volume of traffic that flows through the town, the county council have submitted plans for a new relief road in north Lowestoft as well.

Delighted with this week's developments, Mr Blizzard said: “I am very pleased - this is exactly what we wanted to happen. This is a very important step as the crossing was on similar funding lists in the early 1990s but was pushed aside. So now for the first time, since then, it is back on the list and being recognised regionally is really great news.

“We never expected that it would go to the top of the list straight away, but now we're on it we can concentrate on working our way up. The ball is really rolling now and we will get there,” Mr Blizzard added.

Mr Blizzard also praised a community campaign, and the support of The Journal, as more than 15,000 people signed a third crossing petition.

Philip Watkins, chief executive of 1st East, said: “What we must ensure is that we promote an effective business case for the provision of a third crossing to transform the hope for a crossing into a reality, building on the existing package of road improvements supported by Suffolk County Council.

“Major infrastructure improvements don't happen overnight. These are long term investments that will help to realise the full potential of the various sites around Lake Lothing that we are planning to bring back into economic use and will help encourage private sector development and investment.”

Suffolk County Council's proposals meanwhile centre on an extension to the Lowestoft northern spine road, which it believes would reduce congestion in the town without the need for a third crossing. The spine road - a one and a half mile stretch linking the A1117 Millennium Way with the A12 Yarmouth Road - would divert traffic away from homes on Bentley Drive on the Parkhill Estate.

Guy McGregor, the council's portfolio holder for roads and transport, said: “The spine road would complete the missing link in the north of the town for people driving through Lowestoft … it would reduce congestion at bottlenecks.”

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