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Inquiry launched into bridge work

PUBLISHED: 12:52 21 March 2008 | UPDATED: 19:57 05 July 2010

AN inquiry has been launched into the handling of the refurbishment on Lowestoft's bascule bridge.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard has written to transport minister, Tom Harris, asking him to investigate the Highway's Agency work, which was originally set to finish at Christmas.

AN inquiry has been launched into the handling of the refurbishment on Lowestoft's bascule bridge.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard has written to transport minister, Tom Harris, asking him to investigate the Highway's Agency work, which was originally set to finish at Christmas.

Now, as revealed last week by The Journal, it seems completion could be delayed until at least the end of May, or even later into the full summer season.

Mr Blizzard said the agency needed to be held to account for what he described as “going badly wrong.”

He said: “When these bridge repairs were first announced I emphasised to the Highways Agency, with the help of the roads minister, the need to minimise disruption because of the huge impact bridge closures would have on the town. We were promised a limited number of Sunday/Monday closures and that the work would be completed before Christmas. This was pushed back to Easter but now we find that after many more bridge closures, including a four day closure, work is likely to continue until May or June.

“All this disruption has had a serious impact in Lowestoft. Residents, businesses and those who work in the town braced themselves for hardship and inconvenience, but the length of time being taken is unacceptable.”

Mr Blizzard described how the main purpose of the overhaul was to replace old components, for which there were no longer spare parts with new ones, for which spares were available.

“The Highways Agency says that some key parts were discovered to be in much worse condition than expected and there has been a delay while replacements were specially made. This tells me that they therefore intended to leave old parts in place, risking breakdown in future, contrary to the primary purpose of the overhaul. They should have had all the new components ready before starting the work.”

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “All additional work is carried out overnight when the bridge is used less. We don't plan any further day time closures.

More overnight closures took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week but no more dates have been arranged as yet.

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