Residents of the village of West Bradford have voiced their frustration that the main route into the village – via West Bradford Bridge – will be closed again for repair work for approximately three to four weeks.
The latest closure comes after the bridge has undergone a series of repairs over the past few years as a result of vehicles having collided with the structure.
The closure of the busy route means the alternative routes through Waddington and Chatburn will be sought by the traffic overspill, adding to congestion at busy times of the day, as both routes are well-used by parents of children attending schools in both villages.
Instances of damage to the northern end of the bridge (nearest West Bradford) have become frequent, mainly due to large vehicles misjudging the width of the road when exiting the bridge. The coping stones have been scraped or dislodged on a regular basis, with more serious damage necessitating the closure of the bridge for repair work more than three times in the past couple of years.
Village spokesperson Edwin Gretton said: “I am told by Lancashire County Council that factors contributing to this problem are the need for larger and heavy goods vehicles to avoid the low bridge on Waddington Road in Clitheroe and following their Sat Nav devices which offer Bradford bridge as an alternative route.
“Signs put up last year discouraging HGV’s from using the bridge are too small in my opinion and are often not seen by drivers in the day time, let alone at night.
“LCC are aware of the ongoing problem, but no solution seems forthcoming. Large and highly visible signs warning of a serious bridge hazard for wide vehicles could be put up to help put approaching drivers on their guard. In the long-term, the council needs to decide whether it is affordable to widen or realign the northern approach to the bridge or even to rebuild the bridge a short distance upstream.”
Bridges design manager for LCC David Leung said: “We have taken reasonable measures to discourage HGVs from using West Bradford Bridge and added three new signs following the previous incidents, however, it is possible for HGVs to use the bridge without incident and our traffic count shows over 100 HGV movements in each direction every week.
“All roads in the vicinity reflect the rural character of the area and other alternative routes have similar issues in terms of narrow approaches and poor sightlines. Engineering measures to improve approaches to West Bradford Bridge would be very costly and likely have the effect of making it the preferred route for HGVs, which residents would be equally concerned about, so there is no easy solution.
“The repairs we started on Monday are expected to last no longer than 4 weeks.
“However we can’t say exactly how long it will take until the damaged parapet has been taken down allowing us to make a full assessment of the damage below road level.”