Pressure mounts on chiefs after diversion road chaos
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
ANOTHER historic Teesdale bridge has been damaged by traffic and pressure is mounting on county road chiefs to “refuse permission” for Barnard Castle to be used as a diversion route.
The grade I-listed County Bridge, in Barnard Castle, was hit last week. Although it is unclear what type of vehicle caused the damage – which dislodged coping stones, gouged stonework and left white paint scrapings – county highways bosses say the bridge will have to be closed for repairs.
It comes three weeks after the Abbey Bridge was badly damaged. The force of impact was so great a stone parapet wall was lifted from its foundations and this bridge will also have to be shut for repairs.
Barnard Castle HGV Action Group member Phil Hunt said: “The current programme of planned weekend closures of the A66 has again focused attention on the problems this creates for the community.
“Whenever Highways England signposts this diversion route the volume of traffic, and especially HGVs, increases significantly. The unclassified road between the A66 and Barnard Castle is totally inadequate for any more than strictly local traffic.”
The second of four weekend closures to a 15-mile stretch of the A66 took place at the weekend with traffic sent through Barnard Castle.
A separate diversion route for HGVs was in place using the Abbey Bridge. Mr Hunt added the approaches and layout of the Abbey Bridge were not suitable for HGVs, especially in darkness. He pointed out that blockages frequently occur when oversized vehicles, going in opposite directions, are unable to pass each other.
He said: “It seems pertinent to us to ask what form of dialogue is conducted between Durham County Council and Highways England when a diversion is being planned since there is little or no public understanding of, or confidence in, this process.”
The HGV action group is calling for an urgent meeting with Durham County Council’s highways team, as well as other representatives including county councillors.
Mark Readman, highway services manager at Durham County Council, said they were aware of the damage to the County Bridge and engineers have already assessed the situation.
He added: “The effected stones are relatively new as the section had been
damaged previously, and although no new stones are needed on this occasion, it is possible that two minor stone repairs will be required. We will need to consult Historic England prior to carrying out this work and a road closure will be required and advertised in advance.”
The bridge, which has a 7.5 ton weight limit, has been bashed and battered a number of times by modern-day traffic. Residents posted photographs to social media at the weekend after Barnard Castle Town Council asked to report any damage or problems caused by the diverted traffic.
One haulage driver also commented online saying: “I drove this diversion earlier. One of the worst I’ve ever seen. There’s also a bridge over a river further on – had to hold my breath and hoped for the best. These roads are not built for artics.”
Mr Readman asked anyone has any information on the damage to get in touch with the highway structures team at Durham County Council by calling 03000 260000.
l Inspector hears case for relief road, page 30