Was bridge design a factor in pile-up horror, asks Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson
An MP has said questions will need to be asked about if the design of the Sheppey Crossing was a factor in today's horrific accident
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson said he had raised questions at the time the bridge was built in 2006 - but they were "pooh-poohed" despite the same reservations expressed by Kent Police.
He said: "Questions will have to be asked about the design - I did raise them at the time but they were pooh-poohed."
Mr Henderson said there were issues about the lack of a hard shoulder and the lack of lights.
He added: "At this time, I want to concentrate on the people in my constituency who have been involved and my heart goes out to them. There are questions that need to be asked but now is not the time."
At the time the crossing was built, the then chief constable of Kent Police Mike Fuller said he felt the bridge design was flawed and an accident was waiting to happen.
He commissioned police traffic experts to advise on a number of safety measures, which were then submitted to the department of transport - but were never adopted on the grounds of cost.
Crowds gather at the scene of the Sheppey Crossing. Picture: Chris Davey
In September 2006, KCC cabinet member for highways Keith Ferrin, pressed transport minister Stephen Ladyman for public reassurances about various concerns raised by Mr Fuller.
Cllr Ferrin said at the time: “Police have rightly raised safety concerns and, until these are properly addressed, drivers will be at risk.
“I have still not received satisfactory answers from the government about the bridge’s safety.”
In letters to the Minister, the Highways Agency and Sheppey MP Derek Wyatt, Cllr Ferrin said urgent attention was needed over the bridge’s lack of lighting, lower speed limit, hard shoulders, emergency phones, and satisfactory barriers.
He added: “I feel it is important the bridge provides a safe passage for the commuting public and a safe working environment for the emergency services and the maintaining agents.”
The Department of Transport said the curvature and gradients of the bridge and its approaches are consistent with a design speed of 70mph.
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