We here at the Waverley Web say…Thank God for the Cranleigh Civic Society… and just like the Billy Goats Gruff – watch out as you cross the rickety rackety Elm Bridge!!
The group that is:…
…has been keeping a regular eye on the movements of the former … may be even future railway bridge at in Elmbridge Road, Cranleigh?
As a bit of background last year CCS stalwart Adrian Clarke (Chartered Builder and Committee Member ) visited the site after being alerted about work being carried out on the bridge over the Downs Link. A sub-contractor was filling in cracks on behalf of the county council with a weak mixture of sand and cement. Adrian noticed that a crack, not yet filled, had bulged further since his previous visit. He claimed, filling in cracks with a weak mortar mix was a complete waste of money – and was purely a cosmetic job to hide a “very real problem.”
CCS believed the bridge abutments should be renewed whist the arch was still sound and if delayed, until one of the abutments completely failed, the structural arch would tilt resulting in the need for the whole bridge to be demolished and completely rebuilt; which would prove extremely expensive and would disrupt users.
In July, a CCS member was studying a (SCC) highway document on Dunsfold Park’s proposed scheme (now approved for 1,800 new homes) and was startled to discover reference to the “Downs Link bridge stating (” it is in need of structural work.”) CCS drew the County Council’s attention to this but it played down its significance.
On 2nd August a bridge not dissimilar to Elm bridge collapsed in Leicestershire this prompted the CCS to research other bridge collapses and its findings were sent to Surrey County Council in the forlorn hope that these failures would spur them into taking its concerns more seriously.
MP, Anne Milton, has been kept regularly informed. of the situation.
On 8th August CCS received an email from Surrey County Council which it hoped “would allay its fears” – however, it did not. Here’s an excerpt from the SCC e-mail with comments from the CCS below:
The Council’s “scheduled and ad hoc visual inspections do not indicate there has been movement in the cracks that are visible from ground level” – we say get a ladder! Also, there is no mention of the walls bulging!
The “bridge was strengthened in 2006 ensuring the structure was capable of carrying a 40T full highway loading for single lane traffic” – we want to know why no weight limit has been imposed – also the traffic is controlled by lights and it is quite feasible for a breakdown on the far side of the bridge, or a slow cyclist, to bring a following mini convoy of 40T grab trucks to a halt! Also, nearby Hewitts has just been approved for development – even more HGVs!
“We do not currently have any concerns about the structural integrity of the bridge” – we say that this totally contradicts what Surrey County Council stated in the Dunsfold Park document!
So once again WW asks – who is telling the truth?
Also August saw publication of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) which included reference to the Downs Link bridge being rebuilt! So CCS asked the County Council to confirm this was correct but received no response to its email of 16th November.
That e -mail does however refer to “seasonal movement of the wing wall foundations” which the society found interesting. Structurally a bridge abutment is designed as a single composite component and if an abutment experiences cracking, then it is no longer acting as a single component – it is now two or more components and the engineering performance is obviously compromised. This view was not accepted by SCC who insisted the bridge was safe – even though the Infrastructure Delivery Plan allowed for it to be rebuilt!
Dare the Waverley Web suggest this is yet another cynical move by SCC to ensure that Dunsfold Park picks up the tab for all the areas infrastructure problems?
Looking at all the photos again, CCS noticed that the triangle of bricks within the crack looks different to the other bricks, perhaps suggesting that this section has failed before, was repaired and has failed again? It has kept its eye on the ball ever since.
What the hell are we actually paying “highways experts” for … WW wonders?
Elmbridge Bridge 23 Jan 2017
So this is the situation now. But Cranleigh Civic Society says it will continue monitoring the bridge and do everything possible to ensure it is made “fit for purpose” for the traffic demands of the 21st century.
No doubt someone somewhere will have a cunning plan before many thousands more cars and HGV’s and construction traffic start trip, trap, trip, trapping over Cranleigh’s rickety rackety bridge after around 1,000 new homes are built in Elmbridge alone? Discounting thousands more elsewhere!