Frustration as A14 bridge damaged last summer may not be repaired until 2021
- Credit: Paula Irvine
Repairs to damage caused by a lorry crashing off a bridge on the A14 may not be complete until next year – leading to complaints the road is being neglected as a key route.
On July 28 last year a lorry plunged off a bridge at Claydon onto the roundabout below, causing so much damage that a 50mph speed limit is still in place.
Then in March this year the lorry driver, Marcin Koziol admitted careless driving at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court. He was fined £350 and banned from driving for six months.
Now the handling of the repairs has come in for criticism as it emerged that they may not be finished until next year meaning the speed restriction would have to stay in place until then.
According to an email from Highways England seen by this newspaper, because the parapet of the bridge is of an older design it cannot be repaired to the necessary safety standards with a like for like replacement.
This means an assessment of the bridge will have to be carried out before a new parapet can be fitted. This is expected to be finished early in June.
If the assessment finds that the bridge is strong enough to have the new parapet fitted to it, this will happen later this year.
If the bridge is not strong enough, the repairs could take until next year to complete.
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John Field, Liberal Democrat councillor for Gipping Valley, said: “Why haven’t they realised its importance before this?
“The A14 is a major trunk road on which an awful lot of the UKs exports and imports rely but it doesn’t seem to be treated that way. I know they’ve done a lot of work out in Huntingdon – and that was well overdue – but this area could do with junction improvements so that traffic flow is increased and delays are reduced.
“It’s also risking the safety of local people, so it is really difficult to understand why we’re stuck in this situation.”
Tim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk, echoed these concerns. He said: “I’m disappointed to hear this work has been delayed and the reduced speed limit will remain in place for some months to come.
“The A14 is part of the national strategic road network, it’s the main east-west corridor and it is a pity these essential repairs could not be carried out while the volume of traffic is reduced and the impact would be minimised. I would be interested to know why the work has not been prioritised.”
A spokesman for Highways England said: “Safety is our top priority at Highways England and we are working to repair as soon as possible the damage caused when a lorry struck a safety barrier on a bridge at the Claydon interchange last summer.
“We had been planning to replace the damaged section of the bridge parapet this spring. However our design work identified that repair would not be strong enough so we are now proposing to replace the entire parapet. “We will carry out the repair as soon as possible and in a way that minimises disruption both on the A14 and on the Bramford road, Claydon.
“In the meantime, we would like to reassure people that the temporary barrier and reduced speed limit that we introduced immediately after the incident are still effective at keeping journeys safe.”