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Six-figure cost rules out footbridge over River Stour as Sandwich Tollbridge remains shut

ByEleanor Perkins

No temporary footbridge will be installed over the River Stour, it has been announced, as Sandwich Tollbridge remains shut for a third week.

Kent County Council (KCC) has acknowledged that problems with the dated swing bridge are "more complex than previously anticipated" with a further inspection due to be carried out today.

The authority has now ruled out the possibility of a temporary footbridge after investigations found it would take three months to build and a further two months to install with an overall cost of £275,000.

Sandwich Tollbridge was unable to close after its opened to let a vessel pass through on June 9
Sandwich Tollbridge was unable to close after its opened to let a vessel pass through on June 9

Instead, residents without the use of a car, wanting to cross the river, must continue to use a shuttle bus which runs from 8am until 10pm daily.

A KCC spokesman said: "Despite the best efforts of the engineers, KCC remains unable to reinstate the operation of the toll bridge.

"A number of parts have been replaced however it has transpired that the root of the problem is far more complex than we had previously anticipated.

"A detailed inspection of the entire structure is scheduled for Monday (June 24) with a specialist inspection of the mechanical and electrical equipment to follow during the first week of July.

"A new secondary hydraulic unit to enable manual operation has been ordered however this will take around a month to build.

"As an interim solution, the engineers on site are refurbishing an existing unit. If successful, staff will then be trained to open and close the bridge manually so that the operation can be reinstated.

"The possibility of a temporary footbridge has now been fully investigated.

"Both costs and build time makes it an impracticable solution in the short term and therefore the shuttle bus will remain in operation.

"We would like to apologise to those affected and thank you for your ongoing patience. Please be assured that every effort is being made to reinstate the bridge operation as quickly as possible."

Sandwich Tollbridge will remain out of action for at least another month
Sandwich Tollbridge will remain out of action for at least another month

Sandwich Toll Bridge has not been reliably opened since December due to hydraulic and control issues.

KCC had confirmed it is looking into a major overhaul but had not finalised a programme of repair.

Around 5.30pm on Sunday, June 9, the matter was taken out of their control when the bridge was opened to allow a vessel to pass through but could not be closed. It has remained that way since.

It is causing issues to both road traffic, which is being diverting via the A256 Sandwich Bypass. and pedestrians who walk or cycle from the town to Discovery Park.

One resident has welcomed its closure.

In a letter to the Mercury's editor, Richard Linning of Strand Street, said: "The indefinite closure of the toll bridge in Sandwich is welcome.

"The majority of the cars coming into town now are those with business in the town. The "rat-runners" have been forced to find an alternative route.

Sandwich resident Richard Linning has welcomed the closure of the Tollbridge
Sandwich resident Richard Linning has welcomed the closure of the Tollbridge

"For most of them this means using the bypass. That the single lane bypass is not fit for purpose is obvious: the need to make it a dual carriageway urgent.

"The recent no Brexit lorry trial supports my argument. I sympathise with my friends in Willow Bank but they too will benefit when the plague of "rat-runners" are no longer scuttling along Ramsgate Road.

"Rather than bemoaning the absence of traffic calming measures, enforcement of speed limits to deal with traffic passing through the town the priority should be to keep unnecessary traffic out."

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich

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