Rail bridge safety pledge welcomed

SAFETY campaigners have welcomed news that funding will be available to improve a notorious railway bridge from a £23.7million Government settlement for the county.

SAFETY campaigners have welcomed news that funding will be available to improve a notorious railway bridge from a £23.7million Government settlement for the county.

The cash grant, which forms Suffolk's share of the Government's transport capital budget for 2004-05, will allow work to begin on installing concrete barriers at the A137 Brantham rail bridge.

The bridge was the scene of an accident in May in which a lorry skidded and crashed into the bridge wall above the rail line.

It provoked fears the site could be the scene of a train disaster similar to the Selby crash if a vehicle ploughed through the bridge and on to the railway line below.


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Jim King, chairman of Brantham Parish Council, said: "I am very pleased that the money is going to be available. It is much needed to prevent a similar accident that occurred with the lorry and of course the Selby crash.

"The concrete barriers will be very useful if something happened like that. At present, there is not really any protection to stop any vehicle coming off the road and going through the lightweight fences."

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However, Mr King added it was essential the barriers were fitted before the Ipswich rail tunnel closed in the summer because of the increased amount of lorry traffic that would be using the A137 route.

Suffolk's grant from the Government represents a £2million increase for the county's roads and footpaths, from £14million this year to £16million during 2004-05.

It means the county council can go ahead with many key projects including major strengthening and re-surfacing work on Norwich Road in Ipswich and St Peter's Street in Lowestoft.

Julian Swainson, member of the county council's executive committee, said: "This announcement is a further boost for Suffolk and will enable us to continue to take forward our plan for improving transport throughout Suffolk."

Among the council's bridge strengthening schemes are three bridges within a small area near Halesworth on the B1124 at Westhall Hall, Old Chapel Bridge, Holton disused rail bridge and safety fencing to protect Stoke Bridge in Ipswich.

During 2004-2005, the council expects to start on strengthening Wickham Market Station rail bridge on the B1078.

The county council submitted its Local Transport Plan to the Government in July 2003.

Reducing road accidents and improving transport are top priorities and major schemes to improve accident problems at Newmarket Clocktower junction, Sudbury Belle Vue and the A1065/B112 junction at Eriswell are expected to benefit from the cash.

Other projects in Suffolk's towns and villages to encourage walking, cycling and greater use of public transport will also benefit from funding of more than £7.5 million next year.

Several major projects will go ahead including a new bus station for Mildenhall and improvements to the bus stations at Lowestoft and Woodbridge.

The Government is also providing extra funding for the construction of the Martlesham park and ride scheme which was opened in November.

Rural areas will benefit from projects to improve accessibility to jobs and services, and reduce the environmental impact of road traffic.

Additional funding will be targeted for new footways, cycle schemes, speed management and lorry management.

Preparation work on the proposed Stowmarket B1115 relief road scheme is to continue, with £7.5 million of government support pledged alongside substantial developer funding.

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