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Uninspired by bridge

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A bridge that replaced one that collapsed during flooding in June has prompted criticism over its design.

A member of Bottesford Local History Group, Mrs Peggy Topps, is unhappy with the new concrete and metal structure that spans the River Devon near the village.

This bridge replaced an 1860 three-arched brick railway bridge.

It was last used by freight trains carrying petrol and diesel 15 years ago and is now a public right of way used by farmers to access agricultural land.

Mrs Topps said: “It would have been nice if they could have reconstructed the bridge but I know it is not practical and not needed, but I would like to see a decent bridge back in place of the old one.

“I think the new bridge is badly constructed and I don’t think you could get a combine harvester over it because there are rails at either side and it is quite narrow.”

Mrs Topps, of Bowbridge Lane, also said the steep gradient could be dangerous for tractors, and that she was glad she took a picture of the old bridge just weeks before it collapsed.

“It was a massive bridge and I can’t help but be pleased that I managed to get a picture of it because all that time it was standing there and then it was gone,” she said.

“I’m sure the new bridge was built to specification but I think they just tried to get the job done as cheaply as possible.”

The co-ordinator of Bottesford Living History Project, Mr Neil Fortey, of Church Street, understood the need for it to be rebuilt quickly.

He said: “The only people who used it were the farmers and the walkers so it doesn’t justify spending a lot of money on.”

The replacement was provided by the transport charity Sustrans, which owns the bridge. The total cost, including work still to be done, will be £40,000.

Sustrans’ bridge engineer, Mr Simon Ballantine, said: “This new bridge is designed for farm traffic with a huge weight capacity which will be significantly stronger than what it is replacing.

“If people have concerns, that might be down to the fact the work isn’t finished yet.

“More bank protection work and concrete decking needs doing.”

He said the old bridge fell down because its original Victorian foundations were very shallow.

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