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Explanation of delays in bridge work

PUBLISHED: 10:28 06 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:38 06 July 2010

TRAFFIC chiefs have finally lifted the lid on the problems which caused road works on Lowestoft's bascule bridge to finish a year behind schedule.

The Highways Agency came under fire when the £2.

TRAFFIC chiefs have finally lifted the lid on the problems which caused road works on Lowestoft's bascule bridge to finish a year behind schedule.

The Highways Agency came under fire when the £2.3m repair project overran last year, causing long queues of traffic through the town centre and disruption for many businesses.

Now the agency has written to Waveney district and Suffolk county councils to explain the lessons that have been learned from the work on the bascule bridge, which carries traffic on the A12 through the middle of Lowestoft, so that similar disrupt-ions can be prevented in future.

The project to repair the bridge was scheduled to take place between October and December 2007 using a series of daytime closures. However, delays saw many further closures throughout 2008 and the work was finally completed just before Christmas last year.

The agency's report states that the problem of worn pins, which was only discovered once work had started, should have been anticipated on such a well-used bridge and that in future a more rigorous risk assessment would be carried out at the start of the project.

It also said that communications could have been improved with more consultation from an early concept stage with Suffolk County Council and a review of notices put in the press to make sure they reflected the problems which the agency and contractors were having.

But Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said that the report did not go far enough to acknowledge the disruption that the series of closures had on the town and its businesses.

He said: “This still does not fully admit the fundamental error, which was that part way through the work, they found that there were some parts which were worn through which they had not realised they would need and so had to wait while they had those specially made.”

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “The 'lessons learned' report helps to clarify the problems encountered with the planning and implementation of the refurbishment of the bridge. This was a major challenge in terms of the electrical and mechanical operation of the bridge and the management of the trunk road network.”

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