Bridges - another argument against monster trucks

14 March 2008

Last month, nothing unusual happened in Grantham. Well, a truck caused chaos by hammering into a railway bridge. But for Grantham, that’s normal. In fact, the town has three bridges - Springfield Road, Harlaxton Road and Barrowby Road – that feature in the UK’s ‘Most Struck Bridges’ Top Ten! Between them, these three were hit more than 60 times in 2007, causing traffic tailbacks and delays for rail users. The bridge in Springfield Road alone was hit 31 times!

 

It’s quite a problem for this Lincolnshire market town – and if lorries are allowed to get bigger, heavier and longer it risks becoming a worsening major national problem.

 

A decade ago there were 885 collisions a year. Now that figure is 1,340. Network Rail (NR) estimates that this causes £15million of damage a year - and wastes 5,000 hours of train passengers' time.

 

NR says 32 % of accidents happen because drivers are unaware of the height of their vehicles, 26 % because lorry-mounted crane arms are left raised and 11% because drivers fail to drive in the centre of the road to allow for an arch. Other fingers are pointing at satnav technology, blaming it for directing vehicles to a particular route. Whatever the truth of these debates, the fact remains that if lorry sizes increase, the bridge problem will rise with them.

 

Another problem that lorries cause on every road except motorways is collisions with overhanging wires. BT contacted the union last year to say that it costs the telecom giant a fortune each year to replace wires that hang over roads – and it says the cost of burying them all would be ‘unthinkable’.

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