Fenland bridge labelled 'second most bashed' will hopefully re-open early in the new year
Motorists using a Fenland road will have to wait until next year before a much used railway underpass reopens.
The Stonea railway bridge underpass has been closed since last October after it was struck twice in one week with the second causing 'significant damage' to the support beam.
Since then drivers have faced tailbacks on the Sixteen Foot Road as they wait to use the railway crossing over the line, which is manually operated and can be closed for up to 15 minutes at a time to allow trains through.
The railway bridge was labelled the country’s second most bashed bridge by Network Rail in October 2018 when it launched a campaign urging drivers to ‘Size up, Wise up’ to prevent crashes.
At that time the bridge, which currently has a height restriction of2.1m (7ft) , and is on the busy Peterborough to Cambridge line, had been hit 15 times in 10 months. Last year it was hit 13 times before it was eventually closed.
The bridge has now been closed for over a year and is set to remain that way until at least the start of next year.
A spokesman for Network Rail explained: "Repairs have been carried out at the bridge, however, the road cannot be reopened yet because if the bridge is hit again it could be so badly damaged that the road would have to be closed for much longer, along with the rail line.
"To prevent this from happening, we have designed a crash protection beam which will be fitted to the existing bridge and protect it from and future collisions.
"This has been designed and is ready for installation, which is expected to be completed early next year and once that is in place the road can reopen.
"The crash protection beam will reduce the current height limit of the bridge by 10cm.
"Although this is small, the council is responsible for updating the road signs with the new height and this must be done before the protection barrier is installed. The council is working on this at the moment.
"The council is also looking at other measures to warn motorists of the bridge as they approach (such as a ‘goal post’ structure ahead of the bridge)."
Cambridgeshire County Council has been asked about the news signs and we are awaiting a response.
It is hoped that once the repairs are finally complete the upgraded beam will protect the bridge for years to come.