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Barrier repairs at Suspension bridge, August 2011

Report first posted 26th August 2011, page amended/updated Monday, 26 September 2011
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Broken barriers, broken promises

On 8th October 2010 a large articulated lorry overturned at Suspension Bridge, crushing the crash barriers (for report & photos, see link at bottom of page). Well, after only 10½ months, and several broken promises, work finally begun to replace the broken barriers on 22nd August 2011.
Following the accident the response from the highways authority, Norfolk County Council, was to place some flimsy plastic panels in front of the wrecked barriers - and little else.

Further accidents occurred at this spot in the weeks and months that followed, seen by some and evident to all by the many smashed plastic panels, yet despite requests from Welney Parish Council and worried residents no repairs had been made by mid-December.

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overturned lorry
8th October 2010

6th November 2010
red and white plastic panels smashed at both ends of the row indicate more crashes. There are also bits of smashed panels on the left verge!
Parish Councillor Claire Freer and her husband, who live at the bottom of the bank below the smashed barriers, again contacted Highways on 20th December, and the reply was published in Issue 80 of Welney News:
"In normal circumstances once a barrier is damaged we would ask our contractor to price and carry out the work. In this case the safety barriers in West Norfolk were all subject to a risk assessment with a uiew to upgrade barriers to meet department for Transport standards. The Welney barrier of which you identifed was one of the barriers which was identified as requiring upgrading and therefore is currently being redesigned to meet the future specifications. An order has been placed for its replacement however we are cur- rently awaiting for the final design before this work can be carried out on site. I have chased this matter and advised this is now a matter of urgency".

20th November 2010
Broken plastic panels litter the bank

20th November 2010
Another crash. The tyre marks are from a small white van that was being dragged away from the barriers as I approached one morning.
Three months later, a Mr Rayner from Highways Dept informed the Parish Council that new barriers will be installed end of April/beginning of May. (Norfolk's highways people obviously have a different definition of 'urgency' to the rest of us).  However, that promise was not kept, and after further correspondence between the Parish Council and Highways, a new date was given, week commencing 25th May. But that too was another broken promise. The minutes of the 7th June meeting of the Parish Council record that two weeks after the work should have started in May, nothing had been done, and the Clerk wrote to our MP, Mrs Elizabeth Truss, who contacted Highways who apparently said they "were not aware of that, and would make enquiries". (!)

From the minutes of the following meeting of the Parish Council on on 12th July we learn that another resident at Suspension Bridge, David Moseley, informed the Clerk on 5th July that a car had gone over the crushed barriers and rolled down the bank. The Clerk immediately reported the accident to Highways, County Cllr Humprey, and Mrs Truss, and on 8th July an e-mail response was sent to Cty Cllr Humprey, copied to the Parish Council. 

4th December 2011
Broken plastic panels still litter the bank

26th March 2011
traffic cones now added in front of the smashed plastic panels
Issue 82 of the Welney News (Aug-Sep 2011) published the Norfolk Highways e-mail:
"Dear Councillor Humphrey,

As you may be aware Norfolk County Council undertakes a programme of structural inspection of its Vehicle Restraint System (safety barrier) to check that it conforms to latest standards. This site was assessed as a location where the barriers should be improved in its specification.

Following the inspection this barrier was damaged by the Road Traffic Collision in October. As it was known that this section of barrier was to be replaced and funded from new budgets in April 2011, a decision was made to only implement a temporary repair pending this barrier replacement. Provisional design work for the replacement of this barrier was commenced by our partner consultants in February/March 2011.
The webmaster passes this site every week and did not see the 'temporary repair' referred to by Mr Rands.

From these designs our consultants have been liaising with our safety barrier contractors to find a suitable design that best conform to this location, methods of working, and fixing a price for the scheme. However the design and cost altered due to further damage resulting in delays to the anticipated and desired commencement of the works.

However, in this instance it has not been a simple case of just replacing a section of barrier as the impacts to the barrier had resulted in a weakening of the bank. Therefore additional design work was required to find a solution of strengthening the bank. (This is being achieved by introducing a concrete ground beam. This design will mean that if there are future impacts then replacement of damaged barriers should be more straight forward and quicker).
crane-lorry loaded with concrete lumps from old barriers
22nd Aug 2011
Day 1 of the works
The concrete lumps that the original barrier posts were set into have been removed by this lorry with a crane attachment.
The job of digging the trench for the new concrete ground beam can now start.
trench for new ground beam with reinforcing rods positioned awaiting concrete vertical galvanised posts placed in deep bored holes
3rd Sept 2011
above and left
Galvanised plates have been placed
vertically in deep bored holes with reinforcing rods shaped into a box
section around the tops to strengthen
the concrete ground beam

8th Sept 2011
the concrete ring beam
A final design and cost has now been submitted and the procurement of the necessary materials has been undertaken by our contractor. Unfortunately there has been further slippage of the start date and I am advised the start date for the works is now mid to late August, whilst waiting for the supply of the material. I acknowledge that this is unsatisfactory, although the ongoing changes to design following further collision damage has caused unexpected delays.

The scheme itself is anticipated to have a duration of 25 days on site and there will be temporary traffic signals in place during these works.

I'm sorry to hear of the further accident and our contractor has been asked to ensure that the site is checked again and is left as safe as reasonably practical bearing in mind the forthcoming replacement scheme. It is not believed that this latest accident will result in any amendments to the design or materials procured.

I hope the above explains why this matter has been protracted, although I appreciate this has taken too long to repair this section of safety barrier. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss further.

Yours sincerely
Karl Rands
Area Manager West - Highways Environment, Transport and Development Norfolk County Council
Direct Line 01553 778002
Highway Enquiries: 0344 800 8009 or website:

8th Sept 2011
the first section of new barrier
  Councillor Humphey responded:
Thanks Karl..
I appreciate the technical problems you have described and would have hoped that the Parish Council could have been kept informed. Would you please confirm when the contractor has checked the site again, that measures have been taken to make the site safer. Please keep me updated on progress.
Photos & captions by Peter Cox
Text includes extracts from
Welney News
and Welney Parish Council minutes

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Related pages on this website
Truck overturns at Suspension Bridge
Supplementary report
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