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Set bridge closure dates _ MP

PUBLISHED: 14:02 22 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:12 05 July 2010

An MP has urged transport bosses to push on with announcing the next set of closures of Lowestoft's crucial Bascule Bridge, so business and motorists can make preparations.

An MP has urged transport bosses to push on with announcing the next set of closures of Lowestoft's crucial Bascule Bridge, so business and motorists can make preparations.

The major £2.3m repair project has fallen several months behind schedule and the Highways Agency (HA) has yet to announce when exactly work will next take place.

An announcement revealed the remaining repairs would be carried out during overnight closures until May, but did not indicate how many would be needed and when they would take place.

The lack of detail from the HA prompted Waveney MP Bob Blizzard to seek talks with project manager Roger Chenery.

Mr Blizzard said: “Mr Chenery said he is talking with the contractors to pin them down to an organised schedule of bridge closures. Clearly there will be some more closures and he is trying to minimise the number.

“Clearly it is in everyone's interest that the work is over as soon as possible. It is really important there is an organised schedule so people know where they stand.

“The problem has been that there have been surprise closures that nobody has known about. I think we've seen that when this wretched bridge is closed, it gives everyone a headache.”

Mr Blizzard has been highly critical of the Highways Agency and persuaded transport minister Tom Harris to investigate the circumstances leading to the delays.

The HA said the delays arose after key parts of the bridge, which carries traffic on the A12 through Lowestoft, were found to be in a much worse condition than originally thought.

A series of daytime closures were due to be completed before Christmas, but these continued through the earlier part of this year and included one four-day shutdown.

A statement from the HA revealed there would be no more planned daytime and that overnight work would take place between 8pm and 6am on days still to be confirmed. A temporary footbridge will be used during the closures and diversions will be put in place for drivers.

Mr Blizzard said the continuing disruption caused by the Bascule Bridge further fuelled his campaign for a third crossing over Lake Lothing.

He has collected thousands of signatures on petition calling on Suffolk County Council to include a new bridge in its transport plan, although the council has insisted it is up to the Department of Transport to make the running.

“We should take the opportunity, while the bridge is in the limelight, to reinforce the argument for a third crossing,” added Mr Blizzard. “It is in everybody's interest to get a third crossing so that when the Bascule Bridge is closed in the future it doesn't cause mayhem.”

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