HC Deb 24 January 2002 vol 378 cc1046-7W
Mr. Burns

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the space to allow cars access that are under the weight restriction on the Widford Bridge in Chelmsford with respect to avoiding(a) undue hazard to motorists and (b) possible damage to vehicles; [29666] (2) for what reason advance warning signs of (a) weight restrictions and (b) roadworks at the Widford Viaduct in Chelmsford on the (i) A12, (ii) A414 (formerly the A1016) and (iii) A414 from Harlow were not erected prior to the work commencing; [29670]

(3) who has responsibility for posting advance warning signs about the (a) weight restrictions and (b) traffic works on the Widford Viaduct in Chelmsford; [29668]

(4) what the earliest date is that work can commence on replacing the Widford Bridge; and if he will bring that date forward; [29672]

(5) for what reason early advance warning signs at (a) weight restrictions and (b) roadworks at the Widford Viaduct in Chelmsford have not been erected on roads carrying traffic from (i) Ingatestone, (ii) Ongar, (iii) Witham and (iv) Boreham; [29671]

(6) when advance warning signs of (a) weight restrictions and (b) road works at the Widford Viaduct in Chelmsford will be posted on the (i) A12, (ii) A414 (formerly the A1016) and (iii) A414 from Harlow; [29669]

(7) what the total cost is of replacing the Widford Bridge in Chelmsford; and who will bear responsibility for the cost of the replacement work. [29673]

Mr. Jamieson

The Widford Bridge is situated on the old A12 (now A1114) through Chelmsford. Chelmsford borough council manage the road on behalf of the Highway Authority, Essex county council, although pending its replacement, the bridge remains the responsibility of the Highways Agency.

Because the bridge's condition has deteriorated, the agency has had to restrict to three tonnes the weight of vehicles using it. To achieve this, vehicle widths are restricted to 6 ft 6 in. The signing arrangements were designed for the borough council by the agency's design agents. The programming of the work to implement the width restriction and the installation of advance and permanent signing on the local road network are being organised by the borough council. All work is being carried out by the borough council's contractors although the Highways Agency is paying for it.

A scheme to replace the bridge is currently expected to start in autumn 2003. The cost, which will be borne by the agency, is expected to be about £4.5 million. Given the large amount of detailed design and preparation work that needs to take place, and also taking into account the long lead in time necessary to carry out work over a busy railway line, this is the earliest date work can start.