REVEALED: Bascule Bridge cost £8m to maintain since 2010
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 September 2018
Archant © 2018
Maintaining one of the busiest bridges in East Suffolk has cost taxpayers more than £8m since 2010.
Figures from Highways England, who maintain the Bascule Bridge in Lowestoft as part of the A47, show the scale of the total cost to keep the 46-year-old bridge running, reaching £8,172,810.78.
The revelation comes on the day council leaders and Waveney MP Peter Aldous meet to discuss the progress of infrastructure projects in the town.
Delays to the construction of a third crossing in the town due to decades of infrastructure projects standing still have seen the Bascule Bridge outlive its 30 year expected lifespan.
However, spending on maintenance to keep traffic flowing across Lake Lothing has reached more than £8m since 2010, almost 10pc of the £100m budget for the planned new crossing.
The bridge is regularly left up for long periods of time for maintenance, leading to traffic disruption and leaving pedestrians and cyclists stranded on the wrong side of the bridge.
One taxi driver, who wished to stay anonymous, said the cost was “outrageous”.
He said: “The cost is outrageous because I cannot understand why they shut it off for that length of time and duration, it doesn’t make sense.
“It has a massive effect. I could lose an awful lot of money, people look at alternative ways of getting across because they won’t want to pay for the extra fare to go all the way around.”
He added: “There doesn’t seem to be any foresight in this town whatsoever and if it was a private enterprise it would be shut down.”
Nigel Page, 58, who is setting up a community group which will lobby councils to improve traffic and road safety in the town and a taxi driver of 29 years, said: “It seems a phenomenal amount of money.
“You couldn’t possibly say it is value for money but it is difficult to say without knowing what is being spent on with these staggering amounts of money.”
He added: “If it needs maintaining and things needing done they are going to do it.”
The costs include directly attributable and identifiable spending on the Bascule Bridge, such as the replacement of hydraulic drive units which operate the bridge opening mechanism.
They also include payments to Associated British Ports who are responsible for the operation of the bridge and the maintenance of its control system.
Highways England have been contacted for comment.
The figures, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, are broken down with year and show that last year was the most expensive year to keep the bridge working.
However it also shows that the amount spent year-on-year can fluctuate depending on the amount of work needing to take place.
The breakdown is:
2018 to date: £167,487.82
The spending does not include spending on a wide range of general maintenance duties such as pothole repairs, sweeping, and cleaning duties.
According to Highways England: “These activities are performed on both a routine and ad-hoc basis to meet contractual requirements. We do not disaggregate the budget and spend on individual types of activities.”