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Concern as Hove bridge alert ignored
Residents say they raised concerns over the structural safety of a bridge more than a year before emergency action was taken.
Network Rail closed the bridge in Wilbury Villas, Hove, in September after a routine inspection revealed a crack in the iron structure thought to have been caused by oversized lorries.
Brighton and Hove City Council has decided to close the bridge for 18 months while further inspections and repairs are carried out.
Residents claim the council was aware of their concerns over heavy goods vehicles damaging the bridge in June last year but said the authority said it did not have the money to take any action.
Members of the Goldsmid local action team had asked for width restrictions to be put in place to stop oversized lorries using the bridge.
They say they were told by Green ward councillor Alex Phillips at a meeting last summer that the changes would cost £30,000 and the funding could not be made available in the next two years.
A member of the local action team with an engineering background reported vehicles six times in excess of the bridge’s three-tonne vehicle capacity using the road.
It is now feared that the repairs will cost substantially more than the £30,000 it would have cost to stop oversized lorries using the bridge. Network Rail said it was too early to put a figure on any repair bill.
Melanie White, from The Dock, a café on the bridge that has only been open for five months, said: “We weren’t established long enough before they closed the road for people to know we were here or to get into the habit of coming.”
A Network Rail spokes-man said: “We wrote to Brighton and Hove City Council in April this year to raise concerns about the misuse of the bridge at Wilbury Villas and asked for width restrictions to be imposed to prevent heavy vehicles using it. Discussions continue with the council about repairs to the bridge and, for safety reasons, the road will remain closed until these can be made.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Discussions will continue about the possible causes of the problem and how they can be resolved.”
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