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'Crikey!' - Woman warned Highways England about 'dip in road' before sinkhole caused chaos

PUBLISHED: 14:13 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:19 07 June 2019

Caroline Rowe says she warned Highways England about the poor road condition five days before a sinkhole closed the Bascule Bridge in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

Caroline Rowe says she warned Highways England about the poor road condition five days before a sinkhole closed the Bascule Bridge in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

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A mother raised safety concerns several days before a sinkhole appeared in a road surface, prompting widespread disruption and traffic chaos.

The sinkhole opened up on the A47 Station Square junction with Commercial Road in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe sinkhole opened up on the A47 Station Square junction with Commercial Road in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

Caroline Rowe was in Lowestoft with her mother on Wednesday, May 29, when the pair spotted a "significant dip in the road" at the junction joining Station Square with Commercial Road.

Five days later the A47 Bascule Bridge was closed to northbound traffic after a sinkhole opened up at the junction, leading to severe delays across the area.

Anglian Water is conducting a "complex investigation" of the site and continues to assess the resulting damage.

Mrs Rowe, who lives in Kelsale but is from Lowestoft, had just driven across the bridge when she stopped at a set of traffic lights and surveyed the condition of the road.

Police and Highways England closed the road after the sinkhole opened up on the A47 Station Square junction with Commercial Road in Lowestoft. Pictures: Mick HowesPolice and Highways England closed the road after the sinkhole opened up on the A47 Station Square junction with Commercial Road in Lowestoft. Pictures: Mick Howes

"As my mum and I watched, this lorry came across the bridge and started to turn," said Mrs Rowe, 44. "We thought 'crikey, the road's going to collapse!'

"We phoned Highways England and my mum told the gentleman on the phone how damaged the road was. He asked exactly where the issue was and said he would get someone on the case as soon as possible."

A Highways spokesman said its contractors "responded to reports of a depression in the carriageway" on Friday, June 1, before putting in place a "temporary fix to make it safe."

Impact on traffic flow is a primary consideration when carrying out repairs, meaning permanent fixes are usually part of other programmed works to prevent disruption.

The sinkhole has caused significant traffic disruption in Lowestoft and the surrounding area. Picture: Mick HowesThe sinkhole has caused significant traffic disruption in Lowestoft and the surrounding area. Picture: Mick Howes

But on Monday, June 3, the sinkhole left Lowestoft and the surrounding area in a state of bedlam, with motorists forced to divert via Oulton Broad, Beccles, Haddiscoe and beyond.

The bridge was later opened to one lane of traffic in each direction, but drivers were still urged to allow extra time for journeys.

"When we heard about the sinkhole we thought 'you've got to be kidding,'" added Mrs Rowe. "Then we realised this was going to bring the whole place to a standstill.

"It seems to me that, if you see something that is quite dangerous like this, it needs investigating properly. We'd simply been concerned that a lorry was going to disappear into the road.

Caroline Rowe says she warned Highways England about the poor road condition five days before a sinkhole closed the Bascule Bridge in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesCaroline Rowe says she warned Highways England about the poor road condition five days before a sinkhole closed the Bascule Bridge in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

"It felt like ringing had been a complete waste of time."

The Highways spokesman added: "We are working with Anglian Water to ensure the fault is repaired and would like to thank road users for their patience."

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