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Pressure to finish bridge work

PUBLISHED: 09:15 15 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:26 05 July 2010

Road chiefs are coming under increasing pressure to ensure a £2.3m maintenance project at Lowestoft's Bascule Bridge does not fall further behind schedule.

Road chiefs are coming under increasing pressure to ensure a £2.3m maintenance project at Lowestoft's Bascule Bridge does not fall further behind schedule.

Council bosses and traders will meet with project managers at a meeting later this week as the town braces itself for the next wave of daytime closures of the bridge.

The Highways Agency work should have been completed before Christmas, but was delayed after contractors discovered section of the bridge were more worn than initially thought. New parts had to be ordered in, meaning further closures were planned for February and March.

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for roads and transport, will chair Thursday's meeting and stressed how important a quick conclusion to the work was.

He said: “We will be looking for reassurances that they are really serious about getting this done as soon as possible. I think people will be asking some hard questions.

“The bridge needs to be maintained in top-notch condition because a failure would be catastrophic for the economy of Lowestoft. “This has simply got to be avoided and we've got to make sure the Highways Agency understands the knock-on effect on the town. Our concern is that we do the best for Lowestoft.”

The bridge will be closed from 8pm on February 2 until 6am on February 5; from 8pm on February 23 until 6am on February 28 and from 8pm on March 15 until 6am on March 17. There will also be several overnight closures of the bridge in the run-up to the main work, including from 8pm tomorrow until 6am the following morning.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: “It is absolutely essential that there is no further slippage. Everybody has had enough of this ongoing saga.

“People are completely fed-up with this wretched bridge and the Highways Agency has simply got to get this work done.”

The bridge is the main crossing over Lake Lothing between north and south Lowestoft and is regularly lifted to allow boats through.

As with previous closures, a temporary footbridge will be placed next to the Bascule Bridge, while a free park-and-ride bus service will operate from the former rifle range in Pakefield to the south side of the bridge between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.

The Highways Agency was unavailable for comment last night.

For more information about the project, visit www.highways.gov.uk or call the Highways Agency information line on 08457 50 40 30.

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