Network Rail has announced that it will raise the height of two railway bridges in Pembrokeshire, because they are frequently hit by lorries.
The BBC reported that the organisation will spend £4.25 million to construct new bridges at Haverfordwest and Pembroke Road. Both structures have been hit by lorries in recent years, which struggle to fit under the railway.
As a result, the new bridges will be 30cm higher than their older counterparts and will feature anti-collision beams to improve safety.
Network Rail will begin the work to replace the structures early next year, and thanked motorists and railway users for their patience ahead of the scheme getting underway.
Both structures carry mainline railway services and there will be weekend road closures on Pembroke Road and the A4076 during January and February to complete the core work on the structures.
However, locals are likely to welcome the work if it means fewer delays as a result of accidents. In May, for instance, a lorry’s canopy collapsed after hitting Merlin’s Bridge on the A4076. It caused significant delays and traffic jams in the area, the Western Telegraph reported at the time.
Another incident at the same location last year saw a lorry crush an oncoming car, injuring the driver, after colliding with the bridge. The Pembrokeshire Herald reported that the lorry driver, Mark Antony Jordan, denied the charge of driving dangerously when he appeared before Swansea Crown Court last September.
These are just a couple of the more recent incidents to have occurred on this stretch of road.
Network Rail will be hosting drop-in events for local business owners and residents to explain more about the bridge works and when they will be taking place.
Scheme project manager Rhys Howells spoke to the BBC, commenting: “We understand closing these roads for any length of time is inconvenient and we would like to thank the community for their patience and support in advance.”
It is important for Network Rail to find ways, such as bridge jacking, structural strengthening and repair, to reduce the risk of accidents occurring around railway bridges.
The organisation has even launched a campaign called ‘Check It Don’t Chance It’ to encourage drivers of larger vehicles to make sure they can fit under railway bridges before they choose a particular route.
According to Network Rail, HGVs and buses are responsible for the majority of bridge strikes in the UK. Each incident costs an average of £13,000 to repair, which adds up to around £23 million of taxpayers’ money being spent each year dealing with these incidents.
Research by the organisation has found that 43 per cent of lorry drivers admit they don’t measure their vehicles before setting out, and just over half fail to take low bridges into account when planning a route.
The bridge that has been struck the most times in the past 12 months is located in Cambridgeshire, with 32 collisions happening at the A142 Stuntney Road bridge. Of the top five bridges where most bridge strikes occur, two are in Cambridgeshire.