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13 October 2011, 05:00
A government minister has visited Lowestoft to see Suffolk County Council's £6.25m plans to improve transport services for rail users, cyclists, pedestrians and drivers in the town.
It comes after the announcement earlier this year that the town was to become a new business enterprise zone.
Transport Minister Norman Baker MP toured the rail station and harbour to find out about the programme to:
- Improve access between bus and rail services at the town's rail station
- Build a new pedestrian and cycling swing bridge across the harbour (Lake Lothing)
- Provide funding to create a new orbital bus service connecting key employment, leisure and tourism sites on the edge of town with the town centre
- Promote cycling to school and work
- Support sustainable economic growth and reduce carbon emissions in Lowestoft.
Councillor Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's Portfolio Holder for Roads, Transport and Planning, led the tour of the areas which will be developed by 2014/15.
A key part of the project is the new harbour crossing with the aim that cyclists and pedestrians can avoid the narrow and often-congested Bascule Bridge road crossing which is a primary route to cross between the north and south of the town.
Speaking during the visit, Councillor McGregor said:
"The Government's significant financial backing for this major project is a boost for residents and businesses in Lowestoft and positive endorsement of Suffolk County Council's work to improve transport services in the county.
This project is all about making sustainable, low carbon travel a genuinely attractive alternative to the car. I strongly believe the approach we are taking in Lowestoft could and should be model followed elsewhere in Suffolk and the county.
I'm looking forward to 2015 when our ambition plans become a reality."
The Department for Transport has agreed to invest £5m in the programme, despite restricted public sector spending.
Transport Minster Norman Baker says it is worth investing the money:
"This funding will make a big difference to the area - creating growth and cutting carbon in a way that exactly meets the twin objectives of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
I'm especially pleased to see the proposals for integrated bus ticketing, which will be crucial in allowing passengers to move around the town more easily."
There have been some questions asked about why more money isn't being spent on building a third road bridge for vehicles to use instead, however Norman Baker responded to that concern by telling Heart that the current plans should help ease some of the congestion and address that issue:
"(The plans) will be useful in dealing with some of the traffic problems which there are because it will persuade some people I think to take the bike or walk in what will be a much more pleasant environment which presently exists, so that may in fact ease some of the congestion that people are concerned about."