Railway bridge off line until 2011?

ONE of the railway bridges in Highbridge could be closed to vehicles for as long as four years. Highways chiefs shut it off to cars and lorries on Monday, and only bicycles and pedestrians are now allowed to use the Walrow railway bridge. But news of th

ONE of the railway bridges in Highbridge could be closed to vehicles for as long as four years. Highways chiefs shut it off to cars and lorries on Monday, and only bicycles and pedestrians are now allowed to use the Walrow railway bridge. But news of the closure came as a total shock to town centre manager Ann-Marie Spalding. She said: "I was only made aware of it when I was contacted by the Weston & Somerset Mercury. I can understand why repairs need to be made, but I am very disappointed about the long timescale. The road is a major route into Highbridge, so it should be more of a priority. "I would hope this won't have a negative affect on trade in the town. I would think the Highways Agency would be concerned about so much traffic having to travel on the major A38, the other road into the town."The bridge, which has traffic lights on, is usually congested by cars during rush hour, but lorries tend to use the A38 as an alternate route. Now all vehicles will have to use the A38 to enter Highbridge from the north. Vehicles will be diverted up Bennett Road, up to the Isleport roundabout and down the A38. A spokesman for the agency said: "A structural survey of the railway bridge has identified weaknesses that could result in Network Rail requesting a weight restriction of three tonnes for vehicles crossing the bridge. "The current weight restriction is 7.5 tonnes, but we have been made aware of people abusing this. The closure will remain until Network Rail carries out strengthening works on the bridge in 2010/2011. Fines will be issued to anyone abusing the closure. This is for safety reasons."Access to the bridge will be reviewed after the works.


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