Published: March 14, 2007
Exclusive: Busy Highbridge road bridge 'shuts for three years'

A busy railway bridge in the heart of Highbridge, which was suddenly closed for emergency repairs on Wednesday (March 14th), may not re-open for THREE YEARS, roads bosses have told

Dennis Herniman, Highway Service Manager for Somerset Highways, told "In the interest of safety to road and rail users Somerset County Council, as Highway Authority, have ordered an emergency road closure of the B3139 at Walrow Railway Bridge."

"A structural survey of the railway bridge has identified weaknesses that have resulted in Network Rail requesting a weight restriction of 3 ton for vehicular traffic crossing the bridge."

"The Highway Authority have been made aware of heavy vehicles abusing the current 7.5 ton restriction that is likely to continue with the proposed 3 ton restriction."

"The closure will remain until Network Rail carry out strengthening works to the bridge in the years 2010 to 2011 and will be reviewed thereafter."

"Pedestrian and cycle use will be maintained. Signs have been put up to notify road users, and a diversion will be in place through Bennett Road, Isleport roundabout and the A38."

Town councillor David Poole, who represents Highbridge, told "The job clearly has to be done but I would question the length of time it is going to take."

"This closure will add a great deal of time to travellers and is the last thing we need at the moment given the current work around the Asda site on the A38. It could well have a detrimental affect on trade in the town too because many shoppers come to the town from the other side of the tracks."

Burnham and Highbridge Town Mayor Eric Gill added that the situation is a "nightmare scenario".

And Somerset County Councillor Rosemarie Parsons, who represents Highbridge and Burnham-On-Sea South, said: "There have been remedial repairs recently, but the bridge clearly needs rebuilding. It would be unsafe for the county council to allow traffic to continue using it in its current state."

"Some residents in Walrow will actually welcome this closure as it will reduce the amount of traffic travelling along Walrow. Some had already suggested that it become a cul-de-sac because of the speed of traffic."

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