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A bridge not far enough in Westbury

September 19, 2011 2:40 PM
By Trevor Carbin

In an act of apparent insanity Wiltshire Council has shelled out taxpayers' money to strengthen the main beams of Station Road railway bridge in Westbury to allow it to carry 40 tonne lorries. However it won't pay for the crossbeams to be strengthened beyond 7.5t, so heavier lorries still won't be able to use the bridge.

Having realised that half a bridge is of limited use the council has now commissioned a feasibility study into the possibility of doing the rest of the work. Meanwhile a Traffic Regulation Order is being put forward to raise the limit from 3t to 7.5t.

The Road Haulage Association has objected because many lorries accessing the Trading Estate will still have to take the long way round, and West Wiltshire Transport Concern has queried the impact on bus routes.

For the WC report see http://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=448

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History:

The bridge over the railway line at Station Road Westbury has been restricted to traffic under 3 tonnes for the last few years whilst emergency strengthening work was carried out.

This meant that buses were having to be diverted along Slag Lane and lorries were being sent through Yarnbrook to get to the West Wilts Trading Estate - WC estimate that an extra 480 vehicles over 3 tonnes were being sent through the village daily.

This caused increased danger and disruption for residents and increased costs for operators trying to access the trading estate.

Network Rail have a legal responsibility, which they had neglected, to maintain the bridge so vehicles of up to 7.5 tonnes can use it. Wiltshire Council has to pay for any higher specifications.

The Campaign For Better Transport (CBT) estimates that no maintenance took place on the bridge for at least a decade.

Anyone with a suspicious mind might have thought the council wanted the bridge to fail to bolster their case for the Eastern Bypass.

The question of the weight limit on the bridge was raised at the public enquiry into the Westbury Eastern Bypass, where the lack of understanding of Wiltshire Council about the traffic implications of weight restrictions on the bridge demonstrated to the inspector the lack of competence of the council, and caused an adjournment of the enquiry.