B Bridge plans spark concern
PLANS to cut traffic levels on a road bridge by making it single lane have been criticised by community leaders.Town councillors in Wivenhoe have said they believe the narrowing of the bridge, on Wivenhoe High Street, should be for as short a time as possible.
PLANS to cut traffic levels on a road bridge by making it single lane have been criticised by community leaders.
Town councillors in Wivenhoe have said they believe the narrowing of the bridge, on Wivenhoe High Street, should be for as short a time as possible.
Yesterday Tom Roberts, the town's mayor, said the current two-way road was being narrowed to one lane for a period of two years while its future was considered.
Only then would a decision be made as to what to do with the bridge, he said, which during a recent assessment was deemed to fall short of load-bearing requirements.
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The analysis of the bridge was conducted by its owners, Network Rail, and Essex County Council, the local highways authority.
Although the structure met Network Rail's safety standards, the council ruled that it fell short of those set by the Department for Transport.
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As a result, early next year the bridge will be narrowed to one lane, with traffic from lower Wivenhoe having priority to that travelling down towards the bottom of the town.
“Apparently the county council have given Network Rail two years to come up with a plan, either to replace the bridge or reinforce it,” said Mr Roberts.
“They are going to reduce its width in January so that only one large vehicle can use it at a time.
“The town council is opposing it because this is one of our major thoroughfares.”
The High Street is the main route into lower Wivenhoe, where work is soon due to start on a major housing development, at the former Cook's Shipyard.
Immediately after the bridge on the lower side is a right turn into Station Road, which is used by lorries travelling to and from the Old Wivenhoe Port building site and buses accessing the station.
“At the same time they are narrowing it the bus company has decided to send three buses an hour down there,” he added.
Essex County Councillor Julie Young said she had asked for further details from the highways department but had not yet received them.
“I have raised objections about the length of time it is going to need,” she added.
However a spokeswoman for Essex County Council said the bridge's future would be considered shortly after it had been narrowed in mid-January.
“The bridge is not compliant with current Department for Transport standards and the bridges owner Network Rail has requested that Essex County Council must take interim measures.
“The loadings must be removed from the outer edges towards its centre and to achieve this it is only possible to have one line of traffic on the bridge.
“It will be necessary to narrow the carriageway to four metres and introduce priority working. The narrowing will be achieved using barriers with the appropriate signage.
“Following the implementation of the work early in the New Year the County Council and Network Rail will consider the future of the bridge.”