A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER

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The Holburn bridge on the C18, just north of Holburn itself, has been under reconstruction for some time, and those who have visited the site recently will have seen that it will shortly be ready for re-opening. It has been a chequered story, subject to delays, and still creating controversy.

There was the issue of steelwork that had been incorrectly completed, and which required a complete restart. The delays users have experienced are down to this early slip. We don’t now how this happened – but it was only the first issue that local people have heard of with the new structure.

First, the good news. Great efforts have been made to ensure they new bridge is handsome and fits in with the style of bridgeworks locally. Care has been taken to recycle existing stone in the bridge parapet and its coping. A plate will be inserted with the date of the new bridge’s construction.

In addition, enormous efforts have been made to include gulleys, either side of the bridge that will allow anything that flows into the dip where the bridge is sited, to pass into the stream beneath, and not become trapped on the roadway.

Councillor Steven Mather takes up the story: “Unfortunately, the bed of the road is contained on either side by two curbs, deep enough to grace a city pavement. We fear that these high curbs will lead to damaged tyres and wheels if ever a car met and heavier vehicle and was forced off the carriageway by them.”

“With heavy lorries going to the large President Estate Farming Partnership Corn Shed and Drier at Hazelrigg Mill, the traffic to and from the Hetton Shoot, and the trucks and tractors to and from the pig farm in Holburn, we fear that sooner or later a car will be driven onto the kerbstones.”

Any tyre meeting this has no chance………

“We appreciate that kerbstones are needed to protect the parapet of the bridge, but the full width pedestrian pavement either side is excessive. The C18 has no pavements. I have researched the specification laid down for bridge pavements in country districts, and looked at other examples – and these are too high. The instruction given is that all such work should blend in with the countryside – not look more appropriate in a town.

“This brings us back to the road width. The width of the carriageway may be just enough to allow two cars to pass, but this is not the only traffic that we see passing our community, and the width of the road is less that the tarmac of the approaches.

“I have measured this and it is several inches narrower than the roadways that have recently been provided in Lowick in the Village Meadows development. Surely this has to be the wrong way round?

“It’s a nice-looking bridge, but it presents problems for those of us who have to use it.

“Lowick Parish Council has discussed this and is urging Northumberland County Council to carry out one or more of the following actions:

• Lay 3 inches of tarmac over the bridge to bring the height of the roadway up and “lower” the curb

• Add new signs either side of the bridge to warn of a narrow bridge, round a bend and in a hidden dip.

• Paint a centre line to protect users and act as a safer “lane” for traffic, and to start this line well before the bridge as a warning.

“There are a numbe of curious issues that the construction of the bridge has brought to light which I have witnessed during its construction – mainly in relation to the laying of the roadway – and I have asked the County Council to explain them. Meanwhile, our first concern is the safety of road users and their vehicles.

“We urge Northumberland to act without delay. We hope that our County Councillor, Roderick Lawrie, will be able to use his influence in County Hall to remedy the situation.

“The original bridge was built in 1920 – and was probably one of the first uses of reinforced concrete in a bridge deck. Bridge designers, no longer constrained by the limitations and cost of using stone arches, could now build Holburn Bridge a full 25ft wide between the parapets- thus allowing future generations of road users – no matter how extravagant and outrageously large their conveyances may become – safe and generous passage over the Lightfoot Burn for the next 100 years…what visionaries they once were!”

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