Monday, 13 January 2020

Orwell Bridge closure 'highly likely' as wind speeds of 60mph predicted


Could the Orwell Bridge close this evening? Picture: ARCHANT

High winds of up to 60mph are expected across Suffolk this evening, with Highways England confirming that the closure of the Orwell Bridge is "highly likely".




Despite no weather warning in place for tonight, Highways England bosses have said that they are "monitoring" the wind speeds in the area and will issue updates regarding any possible closures.
The Orwell Bridge is prone to shutting in high winds, and is typically closed whenever winds reach Highways England's limit of 50mph.
In a tweet, Highways England responded to queries about the Orwell Bridge closure, saying that "it is highly likely" the bridge will shut. 
They said: "Unfortunately we've had a weather update that breaches our protocol and it is looking highly likely we will be closing the bridge for 19:00 tonight until 23:00. We are having another call later this afternoon to confirm and we'll update you.
"Please prepare alternative arrangements for your journeys just in case we do close the bridge. You will see our Traffic Officers and Contractors at the scene from 17:00 installing the closure. We're having a final call later to see if we can avoid it."
Adam Dury, a weather forecaster for Weatherquest, said that Ipswich, being further inland, "could see winds speeds of 50-52mph". 
He said: "Widely there will be gusts of 45-50mph across the region, but speeds will be nearer 55-60mph on the coast of Suffolk."
Wind speeds are set to rise from around 6pm, but Mr Dury says that the main peak of the winds will arrive between 9pm and 10pm - after the evening rush-hour. 
He says that these gusts of wind will ease around midnight this evening. 
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for wind covering most of the east, south and west coasts of England on Tuesday.
Mr Dury continued: "It will be fairly similar tomorrow, with 50-55mph winds inland and 60mph along the coast. 
"The stronger winds will come earlier tomorrow, peaking around 7pm and continuing until the early hours of Wednesday morning."
The Met Office warning states that delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport are likely.
There may also be disruption for drivers of high-sided vehicles on exposed routes and bridges, and it's possible that some people may experience short term loss of power.
The warning states: "Southwesterly winds are expected to strengthen across much of England and Wales during Tuesday afternoon and evening. 
"Gusts of 40 to 50 mph are expected quite widely inland, with exposed coasts and hills having gusts of around 60 mph, perhaps locally 70 mph. 
"Heavy rain may be an additional hazard in places. Winds will ease from the west during Tuesday night."


Highways EnglandHIGHWAYS ENGLAND UPDATES
Breaking News

Here is the latest information on the Breaking News



Road users in the east of England are being advised that the Orwell Bridge in Suffolk will be closed from 7pm tonight (Monday 13 January) for safety reasons, due to high winds, and is expected to remain closed until around 11pm tonight.Highways England will continue to monitor wind speeds closely before making a further decision about when to reopen the bridge based on the safety of road users.
Due to the forecasted wind strength and direction it is not safe to allow any vehicles to pass across the bridge during the period of closure.
Met Office forecasts are warning of further strong winds on Tuesday evening and at other times during the week. The bridge will only be closed when it is essential for safety reasons and for as short a time as possible. Drivers are advised to look out for further information on twitter at @HighwaysEAST
Once the Orwell Bridge is closed, the planned diversion route is via the A1156, A1189 and A1214 through Ipswich and will be clearly signed.
Drivers planning to travel are encouraged to plan their journey in advance and check the latest weather and traffic conditions along the route. You can get the latest forecast from the Met Office and local radio.
Drivers making journeys across the region should be aware of sudden gusts of wind, give high sides vehicles, caravans, motorbikes, and bicycles plenty of space.
Highways England provides live traffic information via its website https://highwaysengland.co.uk/traffic, local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile platforms. Local weather information is also available on Twitter at @HighwaysEAST. The latest weather forecast can be seen online at www.metoffice.gov.uk

Last updated on: 13/01/2020 17:45

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