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All you need to know about the abnormal 80m 600 tonne load moving from Ipswich to Eye in largest operation of its kind

A major operation is underway today as a number of agencies help transport and abnormal load through Suffolk.

Suffolk Highways has been working with Allelys, National Highways, Suffolk Police, as well as J McCann and Swarco, Suffolk’s new street lighting and traffic signal providers, to prepare for three abnormal load movements, on behalf of Drax Group, a renewable energy company who are working with the Government to help provide a more resilient power network for the country.

These movements will be the largest combined effort for Suffolk Highways to date. The total length of each vehicle will be 80m and the load consists of a 327.5-tonne generator and two turbines weighing 332 tonnes and 221.8 tonnes.

The load is 80m long and between 500 and 600 tonnes
The load is 80m long and between 500 and 600 tonnes

The moves start at Ipswich Docks in early hours of each morning, to Eye Airfield, Progress Power Station.

Sunday 22 October 2023 (Load 1)

6am – Depart Ipswich Docks

The second half of the journey will be reviewed when it reaches Bury Road/Old Norwich Road, Ipswich and will only continue to Eye Airfield if safe to do so.

A decision will be made by Suffolk Police based on safety and daylight hours restrictions, as to whether the load stops at Old Ipswich Road, Claydon (bus section south of Hill View Business Park) or continues along A14.

If it is decided unsafe to continue, the second half of the journey will continue on Sunday 29 October 2023.

If the load movement continues on the following Sunday, the previous route will be followed, via Claydon/Coddenham.

An overhead view of the load. Picture Suffolk Council Council/X/McCann and SkyGlide Ltd
An overhead view of the load. Picture Suffolk Council Council/X/McCann and SkyGlide Ltd

A14 (possible second route) – Should the decision be made to continue along A14, traffic will be managed by Suffolk Police to allow for the loads to travel safely along A14 from Whitehouse (J53) to A140 (J51), leaving and re-joining at Claydon (J52) to allow traffic to flow.

The load will travel in the wrong direction and a rolling roadblock will be in place with traffic being held temporarily.

Sunday 29 October 2023 (Load 2)

6am – Depart Ipswich Docks

Sunday 5 November 2023 (Load 3)

6am – Depart Ipswich Docks

Other possible move dates – 19 and 26 November and 3 December 2023.

The A140 will be closed on three of the six Sundays.

The total length of each vehicle will be 80m and approx. 500 – 600 tonnes total weight.

Prior to the previous abnormal loads in 2021, Suffolk Highways anticipated future abnormal load movements so works were carried out to replace permanent street furniture with easily removable bollards. This limits the amount of work and disruption required during the lead up to abnormal load movements.

As this load will be taking a different route to previous years, additional pre works have been required to install removable street furniture, and undertake extensive vegetation removal work along the full route.

On the day of the transformer movement, highways teams will be leading and following the vehicle to prepare the route, temporarily removing and reinstating street furniture and trimming trees (where required A140, Claydon, Barham/Coddenham and several locations in Ipswich).

This will enable the loads to be transported whilst keeping disruption to a minimum for members of the public.

A temporary road closure of A140 will be necessary whilst the load moves to its destination to Eye Airfield. A temporary overbridge at Brockford will be installed to protect the county’s roads and structure.

Once the load has safely passed the overbridge and the road is deemed safe for public use, the overbridge will be dismantled in readiness for when the A140 can be reopened.

The closure could be in place for several hours from midday; however, the Suffolk Highways twitter account will be providing accurate timings and updates throughout the day.

Other restrictions will also be in place, such as parking and weight limit restrictions, the suspension of any double yellow lines along the route and the closure of B1075 Tomline Road, Ipswich and the St Matthews Street, Ipswich subway.

To allow the load to navigate safely around permanent street furniture on the day of the move, the load will be travelling on the opposite side of the carriageway at times. Suffolk Highways’ Traffic Management teams will be leading the load, whilst Suffolk Police will manage traffic.

To limit the impact on the travelling public, there may be temporary stop points along the route to support with minimising congestion.

Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Ipswich, Operational Highways and Flooding, Cllr Paul West said: “A great deal of careful planning and joint working goes into an operation such as this one. I am confident that those involved will ensure the safe and successful delivery of parts on behalf of Drax Group. I want to thank communities that may be affected by this move for their understanding and cooperation.

“Similarly to previous abnormal load moves, we will be providing live location updates throughout the move via Suffolk Highways Twitter account @Suff_highways, for those wanting to plan their journeys to avoid disruption, or to catch a glimpse of the huge structure in transit!”