Double-decker bus damaged on ‘dry run’ through controversial new link road in Sudbury

Chambers bus

Chambers bus - Credit: Emma Brennan

A bus company could be forced to abandon a new route before it has even got off the ground after a double-decker vehicle was damaged during a “dry run” through a controversial bus and emergency vehicle gateway.

John Sayers at Chaucer Bus link

John Sayers at Chaucer Bus link - Credit: Contributed

The route linking two Sudbury housing estates, which was part of a planning condition with the developer Persimmon dating back to 1995, was “signed off” in March 2012 after more than seven years in the planning process.

It then took until June this year for the road between Chaucer and Priory Estates to be given approval by the county council’s rights of way committee.

Bus routes were supposed to start operating through the gateway at the beginning of November and Chambers bus company had already published timetables incorporating the route, which was intended to link with the new Sudbury health centre when it opens next month.

Since the gateway was installed with raised concrete blocks preventing low vehicles from passing through, it has been criticised for enabling motorcyclists to use it as a “rat run”.

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People living nearby also expressed concerns that double decker buses would have to mount the kerb to negotiate the narrow roadway, and now according to Chambers supervisor, Malcolm Taylor, they have been proved right.

He said: “We had to get in touch with Suffolk County Council to make the gateway wider because we couldn’t get a bus through it.

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“After the work was done, we then did a dry run but as we turned left into the bus lane coming down the hill from Tesco, the bus tilted towards the kerb and we grounded it on the pavement which damaged the front offside corner and the back wheels were about to go over the kerb.

“The only choice we have now is to use smaller buses, which we don’t have and are expensive to acquire, or abandon the route.”

County councillor for the area, John Sayers, who campaigned from the start for a more user-friendly bus gate, said he was “thoroughly disappointed” with the situation.

He added: “I told the highways authority buses wouldn’t be able to get through there without encroaching on a pavement and we are now in a situation where Chambers doesn’t feel comfortable using the route and all because they wouldn’t put in simple barriers rather than the expensive contraption we have there now.

“It has annoyed a lot of the residents, the cost of the project has been astounding and unbelievably it’s still not usable.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council, said: “We are aware of the issues and are working with the developers to resolve them.”

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