Latest plans for “The Marlow Bridge Overweight Vehicle Issue” announced..

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Bucks County Council have advised that from Monday 23rd September 2019 Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) will be carrying out further investigative work on Marlow Suspension Bridge, working alongside BCC Councillor Alex Collingwood.

TfB will undertake further testing on the bridge, attaching proximity sensor ‘testing apparatus’ to the bollards in order to determine driver behaviour and vehicle alignment in anticipation of setting the bollards in the future to the correct operational width restriction of 2 metres, this information will shape how the deterrent measures may be improved in the future.

Drivers will also be alerted if their vehicle exceeds the 3T weight limit and/or the 2m width restriction by visual display units erected on both sides of the bridge and messages will flash up accordingly. The campaign is intended to help deter and prevent overweight / oversized vehicles from crossing the bridge creating immediate awareness to drivers and will last until 21st October 2019 demonstrating to drivers for those 4 weeks if their vehicle can legally use the bridge as part of their route.

MyMarlow asked BCC for details on the operation of this system, and they replied “These limits will be detected via an ANPR linked to the DVLA database. This will just be for messaging purposes and none of the information will be retained. The messages that appear on the signs will not show the driver’s information or the vehicle’s license plate.”

Over and above the testing and driver awareness campaigns, TfB will continue to assess the structural capacity of the bridge and have initiated a review of the traffic signs in the surrounding area, assisting TfB to analyse the condition of the bridge and  proactively direct HGV’s onto alternative suitable routes before they reach the bridge.

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Transport Member, Mark Shaw, said:

“Education and data gathering are a key part of the prevention process and we need to do whatever it takes to protect this iconic structure and change behaviour.  Gathering data whilst lifting awareness to the highest level is a collaborative process and will enable us to demonstrate further restrictions we may have to put in place.

Whilst we do not want to jump to conclusions at this stage the final data may take us in the direction of re-engineering the bollards to a tighter width again, to protect at all costs a costly and catastrophic event from occurring in the future, this exercise will help inform us of the options available to us going forward.”

MyMarlow Bonus Feature!  What about all those other ideas???!

Every time “The Bridge Issue” comes up, most of us end up coming back to the same ideas (which seem good ideas!), but here is the official response to those:

Why can’t we simply put in a Height Restriction?

Per BCC: “As a highway authority we are only allowed to introduce a height restriction where one actually exists. The portals of the bridge are large enough to accommodate a standard vehicle. In short, we cannot lawfully introduce an artificial height restriction within the current legislative framework that is in operation.”

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

The use of ANPR has also been mooted by a good number of people. There are two issues with adoption of such a system:

  • Enforcement of Moving Traffic Offences – many people are aware that in London you can receive a Penalty Charge Notice for a number of moving traffic offences (illegal U-turns, blocking a yellow box junction, illegal right turns etc.) However Government has yet to expand that power to other English authorities (the system can be used in Wales). The piece of legislation in question is Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.If allowed, then the system has much going for it in terms of its effectiveness; however it is not a physical deterrent in its own right as a driver may still choose to ignore the cameras and accept a Penalty Charge Notice. In addition, with the Girteka issue in 2016, the vehicle was operating on foreign licence plates. Our ANPR systems only have access to vehicles registered with the DVLA.
  • ANPR could be linked to a dynamic sign that indicates to a driver that their vehicle exceeds the weight limit. This sort of system would have no enforcement powers, and again it would be limited to vehicles registered in the UK. Placement of the necessary  quite large message signs would also present an issue on either approach to the structure, this being in addition to providing a suitable location for an overweight vehicle to turn around safely.

Who can enforce weight limits?

“Thames Valley Police (TVP) and local Trading Standards Officers can both enforce the weight limit. TVP have run a number of successful operations however their effectiveness is sometimes short lived and people quickly fall back into old habits.  Any fines that are issued are paid direct to HM Treasury and are not paid to the authority or to TVP.”

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2 thoughts on “Latest plans for “The Marlow Bridge Overweight Vehicle Issue” announced..”

  1. The weight announcement needs to be placed a distance away from the bridge to allow the vehicle to turn. Otherwise an overweight car with a line of traffic behind it will just proceed forwards.

  2. As the announcement seems to indicate, there seems little that the local authorities can do without central governments blessing and when they can make a decision it seems a very expensive project that has to be re remedied numerous times without much success, but hey ho! We can all keep contributing towards the failures.
    One thing that would save our bridges life however would be to install traffic lights (as Cookham Bridge) then only a single flow of traffic at any time would be crossing it as apposed to two rows at present, thus saving up to half the weight at busy times. But please do not forget that there are many vehicles under the 3t that are quite wide!

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