Ipswich Docks

Confirmed: Ipswich won’t get a single new bridge

After many years of speculation and misinformation regarding a new bridge being built across the River Orwell in Ipswich we can finally reveal the truth.  Ipswich will not get a single new bridge.

A new bridge across the Orwell in Ipswich – the theory

Rumours of a potential new bridge across the Orwell have been rife for many years.  It’s perhaps unusual that so many wild rumours tripped off the tongues of the locals, considering that all potential plans were made public by Suffolk County Council.  Details of the Upper Orwell Crossing Proposals have been online since around March 2016.  

It was initially assumed by many locals that the work that has commenced on the new Orwell flood barrier would include a bridge.  The current flood protection development does not currently include a bridge.

The initial Orwell Crossing proposal outlined three possible options for a single new bridge across the river.  Two options proposed building a new bridge for all road users.  The third proposal outlined plans for a bridge that would carry only cyclists and pedestrians.

A new bridge across the Orwell in Ipswich – the reality

It has now been confirmed that Ipswich will not get a single new bridge, it will in fact get two new bridges.  

In a press release published by architectural practitioners Foster + Partners it was revealed that they have been selected to design TWO new bridges across the River Orwell.

Here at So Suffolk we are fortunate enough to have seen some of the conceptual drawings showing what the two bridges might look like.  One bridge will carry all road users across from the central island of Ipswich Docks (known as The Promenade), across the river to roughly where The Steamboat Tavern is located on New Cut West.  

Patteson Road Ipswich
Patteson Road, Ipswich Docks. Photo: Andrew Culture

A second, much larger bridge will carry traffic from a point roughly located near Patteson Road on the East Bank of the Orwell to a point near the IMO car wash on the West Bank.  On some images it appears that the larger bridge may contain two ‘decks’.  One deck would be for motorised traffic, while the second deck would be reserved for pedestrians and cyclists.

Although final plans are yet to be developed, this news confirms that the building of two new bridges across the River Orwell will be part of a far wider redevelopment of the dock front in Ipswich.

Foster + Partners Ipswich legacy

In recent years Foster + Partners may be most well known for designing 30 St. Mary Axe in London, the building famously known as ‘The Glass Gherkin’.  But it was a huge glass building in Ipswich that was one of their first high-profile projects back in 1975.  The Willis headquarters in the heart of Ipswich was once declared as one of the seven architectural wonders of the world.

Spencer de Grey, Head of Design, Foster + Partners explains:
“Ipswich holds a special place in our hearts. The Willis Faber Building was a landmark project for the practice, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the town once more. The design of the bridges focusses on enhancing the experience of crossing the Orwell River, increasing interconnectivity and reducing congestion in the town centre. The project also offers the opportunity to consider the design of the bridges in a wider urban context, creating new promenades and public spaces between the riverfront, inner harbour and island. We look forward to working with the Suffolk County Council to develop and refine our proposals over the coming months to help realise a new urban vision for Ipswich.”

Details of when the final plans and designs will be made public are yet to be announced.  It is not yet known when building work on the two new bridges might start, and when the two new bridges might be open to the public.

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