Great Wratting: Bridge to be replaced after HGV abuse

New bridge for Great Wratting

New bridge for Great Wratting - Credit: Archant

A bridge in a conservation area will be demolished and replaced after inspectors found that it had begun to crack.

Suffolk County Council has submitted an application to St Edmundsbury Borough Council to remove the Malting Farm Bridge that carries The Street over the River Stour in Great Wratting.

Planners claim that the three tonne weight restriction on the bridge is being frequently ignored and a new bridge is essential to ensure the safety of those using the road.

But any work will be complicated by the presence of otters in the area, with ecologists particularly concerned about the effects of rubble falling into the watercourse.

A report that has been submitted to St Edmundsbury states: “Whilst a structural weight restriction reduces the risk of larger vehicles using the bridge, it is not easy to enforce and is often subject to abuse. Although the bridge is on an unclassified road with limited strategic value, it still serves local needs, such as deliveries, emergency vehicles and agricultural use.”

The bridge was inspected in 2010 to examine corrosion of steel girders and found parts of the concrete deck were crumbling.

Inspectors said: “The cracking observed in the concrete has been caused by flexure of the deck, which is a cause for concern. It has been observed that the wheel track on the bridge extends almost to the edge of the 2.8m wide carriageway, which, when assuming that all vehicles pass over the bridge more or less centrally, suggests that significant sized vehicles use the bridge regularly.”

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There is a ford adjacent to the bridge and it has been claimed that unsuitable vehicles use the bridge when the water is too high to avoid a three mile detour.

Ecologists have recommended that works should be carried out from October 2013 and completed by the end of the year to avoid disturbing otters. If rubble or pollutants do fall into the water, construction workers have been instructed to remove them immediately. The new bridge will not have a weight restriction.