Concerns over ‘immense disruption’ means problem bridge will not be opened for time being
- Credit: Archant
A problem-plagued bridge will not be opened over concerns it could get stuck in the lifted position and disrupt a seaside town during the busy summer season.
The Haven Bridge, which spans the River Yare in Great Yarmouth, is currently broken due to electrical issues and unable to raise to let large vessels pass through.
Last summer the 90-year-old bridge froze while open, leading to chaos for motorists and pedestrians.
Cllr Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, and infrastructure and transport, said the structure “requires regular maintenance but also upgrades to increase its reliability”.
The council announced last month that refurbishment worth £1.2m will begin after Christmas - but, according the Mr Wilby, some upgrades could be brought forward after the council receives details from a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection of the bridge carried out on Friday (August 7).
Mr Wilby said there is currently a risk if the bridge is lifted it may remain stuck in the open position, as safety concerns would prevent engineers from directly accessing the switchboards.
“We are aware of the immense disruption the bridge being stuck open would cause to the town particularly during the busy summer period,” he said.
“With this in mind we have taken a decision, in consultation with Peel Ports who operate the bridge and maintain it on our behalf, that the bridge will not be lifted for large river traffic for the time being.
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“Urgent work is underway with Peel Ports to achieve a solution as swiftly as possible,” he added.
Mr Wilby said the most pressing issue raised by the HSE was a concern relating to the switchboards on site.
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“We understand that the immediate concerns would be allayed by work to install remote isolation switches for the switchboards,” he said.
The councillor also said the refurbishment work, when completed, “will help minimise the inconvenience experienced by road users, residents and businesses alike, when Haven Bridge is not working”.
The issue with the bridge has also impacted boatowners.
On Tuesday (August 11) a couple said they were unable to sail their yacht up the river into Great Yarmouth before mooring at Brundall and so were stuck at Lowestoft marina.