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Contractors invited to bid for £90m Ipswich river crossings project

Suffolk County Council has opened the bidding for a multi-million pound river crossing project in Ipswich which would see the construction of three crossings aimed at easing the traffic around the town centre and improving journeys made within the area.

The largest new bridge proposed is approximately 600m long and would be a main bridge over the river. The second bridge would act as a wet dock crossing to a new technology area for the town and the final bridge is a reconstruction of an existing footpath and cycleway.

Construction work on the crossings is scheduled to begin in 2020 with completion in 2023, the council said. The government has granted £77m towards the project’s final cost.

The council has said final details of the bridges are due to be published early next year and they will then go through the planning process. Council leaders claim the development could generate £600m for the local economy.

While exact design details are still unclear, Foster+Partners was selected as the architect for the project last March after winning a design competition held by RIBA on behalf of Suffolk County Council. Foster+Partners' innovative design combines the main road bridge and the foot and cycleway crossing in one structure, with two separate bridge decks sharing the same pier supports where the footway crosses between the east and west banks.

However, the proposed river crossings has drew criticism from one campaign group in the area, with protestors earlier in the month claiming roads in Ipswich would become a "major thoroughfare" should construction of the bridges take place.

Chair of the River Action Group, Matthew Thomas, said: "What we are going to see is the road getting a lot, lot busier. What we have seen is a plan that will transform a quiet residential area into a major thoroughfare.”

A maximum of eight contractors are invited to tender and each must register with the council’s procurement system, here