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Villagers in Elmswell and Badwell Ash react to upcoming works on the A1088 Bridge Farm Bridge in Stowlangtoft





Community leaders and residents have given a mixed verdict on an upcoming five-month long road closure which could cause travel disruption.

On Wednesday, Suffolk Highways announced that works on the A1088 Bridge Farm Bridge in Stowlangtoft are set to start on Monday, July 22 and will continue until Friday, December 20.

The project aims to ensure the bridge’s longevity and safety for motorists. However, residents from surrounding villages have voiced their concerns on the impact the 151-day closure could cause in Elmswell, Badwell Ash, Ixworth and Woolpit.

The A1088 in Stowlangtoft will be closed for five months. Picture: Google Maps
The A1088 in Stowlangtoft will be closed for five months. Picture: Google Maps

Cllr Fred Pallet, chairman of Elmswell Parish Council, said: “It’s just absolutely crazy.

“I know residents in Elmswell are not happy about this – it’s just the same old, same old. Will it ever end?

“We’re only now coming out of the 18-month roadworks on the A14 which caused mayhem in the surrounding villages and we’ve already got something else to worry about.

The official diversion route will be in place from July 22. Picture: Suffolk Highways
The official diversion route will be in place from July 22. Picture: Suffolk Highways

“I think it’s a complete disregard for road users just to suit the engineers’ financial budgets and restrictions.”

Cllr Pallet said Suffolk Highways should have installed a temporary bridge while the works are taking place on the old bridge, although it would have been more expensive.

He also criticised the lack of co-ordination with National Highways over the resurfacing work on the A14 outside Stowmarket, between Haughley and Tothill, which started on February 20, 2023.

However, the A14 project has concluded today after 16 months as the road has now fully reopened.

The A14 westbound between Haughley and Tothill. Picture: National Highways
The A14 westbound between Haughley and Tothill. Picture: National Highways

The five-month closure on the A1088 will see traffic diverted onto the A14 and A143 with temporary advisory speed limits of 20mph and 30mph in place on several routes to prevent rat running through villages.

Suffolk Highways confirmed these limits will be in place in Fen Road and The Street in Pakenham, The Street through Stowlangtoft and Hunston, Hunston Road in Badwell Ash as well as Badwell Road and The Causeway in Walsham-le-Willows.

Cllr Andy Mellen from Suffolk County Council said: “The existing bridge needs to be replaced – the old structure, built many years ago, has deteriorated and could have eventually collapsed under heavy loading.

There were previously temporary traffic lights in place at the bridge in 2022. Picture: Google Maps
There were previously temporary traffic lights in place at the bridge in 2022. Picture: Google Maps

“Suffolk County Council’s highways engineers have examined the structure and found that we need to totally remove the old bridge and replace it with a new one designed and built to take modern traffic loads.

“There has been extensive consultation between highways officers and representatives of the affected parishes – as well as local hauliers, so that residents are aware of the closure and can plan ahead.

“There will inevitably be some disruption to travel routes with this major road closed for several months, but if road users take note of the signs which will be in place at all junctions ahead of the closure, I am confident that they can find their way through via the signed diversion routes.

“It is a significant piece of engineering work, but we are confident it will go smoothly.”

Residents in the area have expressed their concerns on the road closure. Picture: Suffolk Highways
Residents in the area have expressed their concerns on the road closure. Picture: Suffolk Highways

Cllr Mellen, alongside county councillors Beccy Hopfensperger and Joanna Spicer, have held meetings with community representatives and highways officers throughout the last year in preparation for this project.

Carole Rose, clerk for Badwell Ash Parish Council, said the works were inevitable and emphasised the importance of bridge safety.

“It is obviously quite a long closure but it is inevitable,” she said. “You have to just get used to it as there’s nothing we can really do.

“When you consider the amount of house building happening in our villages, drivers are going to find these rat runs whether we like it or not as – it’s so easy from them to find these routes with Google Maps and things like that nowadays.

“There’s just not much point with losing any sleep over it, it’s going to happen – if the bridge is too weak, Suffolk Highways has no choice but to strengthen it.”

Residents have also taken to social media to share their views on the upcoming road closure.

Paul Saunders said: “Five months is a ridiculous timescale.”

Simon Bisland-Cook agreed and said: “Five months – come on guys, this is a joke right?

“Are you getting one man with a hammer and chisel to do the work?”

Prouse Anthony said: “Great, we already had the A14 roadworks for ages and now this.

“The co-ordination is dismal, Bury to Elmswell is now a day trip.”

Steven Reid added: “I think this is good news, it’s about time the road was repaired.”

For questions on the bridge replacement project, Suffolk Highways has established a dedicated email address – A1088BridgeFarmBridge@milestoneinfra.co.uk.