Damaged bridge which forced drivers to take diversion for three years will finally be replaced
- Credit: Simon Parkin
A bridge damaged beyond repair in a crash - causing the road’s closure for three years - is finally set to be replaced.
Work to replace the road bridge at Eccles Heath, between Attleborough and Snetterton, will begin at the end of this month.
But rail passengers are facing disruption as a result, with replacement buses drafted in for the journey between Norwich and Thetford.
The bridge, which carries the road between Harling Road and Eccles Road stations, was badly damaged after being struck by a vehicle in November 2017 and ultimately deemed unsafe for motorists to use.
Ever since, drivers have been forced to take a diversion over the alternative Bryant’s Bridge, with Network Rail conceding bridge repairs were unlikely to take place until 2022.
At the time, Norfolk MPs Liz Truss and George Freeman branded the forecast length of the road closure as “unacceptable”.
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But, after exploring all options to repair the existing structure, engineers have decided a full replacement is the only safe option owing to the age, design and construction of the bridge.
Network Rail says it has brought forward the work in recognition of the road closure’s impact on the local community.
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Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for East Anglia, said: “When incidents like this occur, we always try to repair and reopen the road as soon as we can.
“On this occasion the damage was so extensive that a replacement is the only way forward to maintain safety for everyone.
“We understand the importance of getting this done quickly and I’d like to thank our railway neighbours and our passengers in advance for their patience while we carry out this work.”
Site set-up and preparatory works are taking place until the end of October, when the main project will begin and continue until December 18.
Rail users will, however, experience two weekends of disruption while engineers replace the bridge deck and parapets.
Buses will replace trains on the following dates:
• Saturday, October 31 - Sunday, November 1: Between Norwich and Ely/Norwich and Peterborough
• Saturday, November 7 - Sunday, November 8: Between Norwich and Thetford
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, added that it was “good news” to see the work being brought forward.