North Cumbria farmers frustrated over bridge closure
Last updated at 09:59, Friday, 14 June 2013
Farmers say failure to repair a bridge damaged after a lorry crashed into it is leaving them paying a heavy price.
They say the closure seven months ago by Cumbria County Council is costing them time and money.
Some farmers in the Southwaite area, near Carlisle, were so frustrated they removed barricades from the bridge in a bid to get to their fields to carry out vital work.
“We can only think that somebody reported this, because not long after it happened the council were quick to put up a concrete barrier,” said Andrew Wilson, of How Field, Southwaite.
“I just wish they had been that quick to make repairs.
“My fields are just 50 yards over the bridge, but now it is closed I have a four-mile round trip through narrow country lanes with a tractor and trailer carrying silage bales.
“This is costing me time and putting my fuel bill up.”
Roads bosses were forced to close the motorway bridge on the C1017 when it was deemed unsafe after a lorry crashed into one of the parapets.
Despite protests to Cumbria County Council, residents claim no repair work has taken place since the bridge was shut in November.
Earlier this year three sets of lights were put up at a cost of £8,000, to allow single lane traffic to cross the bridge.
However, damage by vandals forced council workers to put up a concrete barrier closing the road completely.
Stella and Keith Bell live at Roadends, Intack, and say it is an eight-mile round trip for them to visit their neighbours on the other side of the bridge.
Hesket in the Forest parish council has written to the county council to complain.
It states: “Nobody would be complaining if they just got on with the repair work, but it has dragged on for so long and people are up in arms about it.”
Parish councillors say the area is being surrounded by road closures. Recently the C1037 was closed for resurfacing with motorists being diverted to the C1036.
“This is an even longer way round. To make matters even worse, if these roads are to remain closed for another month, the other end of the C1041 is being closed for resurfacing on July 1,” their letter added.
“Silaging time started and some farmers needed to take machinery to their fields across the bridge.
“In May the barricades were removed by a farmer to allow tractors and trailers access. Council workers were quick enough to come and close the road permanently.”
Farmer’s wife Alison Wilson described the whole situation as a bureaucratic nightmare.
“I have been speaking to the agency who is supposed to be carrying out the repair work and they tell me that the damage is a hairline fracture in a metal girder.
“They say they are going to carry out repairs but if they don’t work then the answer is either a £2m new bridge or leaving it with one lane open.
Mrs Bell had written to Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, and this week received a reply stating the bridge may reopen in September.
A county council spokesman said: “The C1037 has been shut under an emergency road closure due to a collapsed drain – not for resurfacing. Repairs have now been carried out on this stretch of road and it is due to reopen.
“The Highways Agency has advised that the bridge may be unsafe to allow vehicles to carry on crossing over it. As the bridge is due to be closed for at least another three months, the planned resurfacing works on the C1041 will be put on hold until the motorway bridge is open again.”
First published at 09:58, Friday, 14 June 2013
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk