We have received the following statement from Bucks County Council, relating to overweight vehicles crossing the bridge during recent closures of the A404:
Last weekend, (1-2 September), Highways England (HE) closed a section of the A404 at Marlow to remove the Volvo footbridge for restoration works.
Given the location of the closure, and its proximity to the Grade 1 listed Marlow Bridge, Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) worked with HE and their contractor, Kier, to agree how the bridge would be protected from misuse by vehicles exceeding 3T. The agreement was for Kier to provide traffic management marshals to man both sides of the bridge and deter overweight vehicles.
The past weekend’s activity, backed up with photographs from the public and personal statements from local councillors, has shown that the agreed measures were not fully implemented. The bridge was open for all to use, including drivers who chose to ignore the official diversion and clear weight restriction signage on the approach to the bridge.
Highways England issued this brief statement to TfB on Tuesday this week: ‘We are aware of reports that that the traffic marshals may not have been in place at all times: we are speaking with the teams working over the weekend to establish the facts.’
TfB understands that HE’s investigation is ongoing, and as such is simply prioritising plans to ensure the same will not happen again when the Volvo footbridge is reinstated under another weekend closure of the A404 in October.
TfB is acutely aware of the impact on the town of the enforced closure of the bridge following the Girteka incident in November 2016 and has no intention of allowing a repeat of that incident.
Mark Shaw, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Transportation, commented “The abuse of the bridge last weekend is extremely troubling, and frustrating because we thought it would be protected, as firmly agreed in the weeks before the closure.
“I urge Highways England to act quickly on their investigation now, because we, and the residents of Marlow, have been waiting since the weekend to understand why this happened.
“In the meantime, we are all focused on how to best protect the bridge in October, a task which I would now rather was handled by Transport for Buckinghamshire. Whether that means marshalling the bridge ourselves, or closing it for the weekend – a decision we would not take lightly – remains to be seen.”
He added: “I’m appalled by what happened last weekend and want to assure Marlow residents and businesses that the last thing we want is a repeat of what happened in 2016.”
Residents may also be aware that the A404, Bisham to junction 8/9, is shortly to be closed overnight for lining works (Tuesday 18th and 19th September). It is TfB’s intention to close the bridge to all traffic whilst this A404 closure is in place. As the works are scheduled for overnight only, the impact on the town will be minimal.