Plans To Replace Route Used By Ashby Commuters Run Into A Dead End

By Graham Hill

14th Jan 2020 | Local News

Swarkestone Causeway - Photo: www.geograph.org.uk
Swarkestone Causeway - Photo: www.geograph.org.uk

By Eddie Bisknell

Plans to replace the historic but trouble-plagued Swarkestone Causeway have currently stalled.

The route is frequently used by Ashby commuters travelling towards Derby.

But there are currently more delays for traffic there after a weekend accident left a car on its roof.

In November, Derbyshire County Council announced that the authority hoped to build a new river crossing to bypass the ancient monument that currently serves as one of the area's most used routes.

It had said that it would have to get creative with how it could fund the replacement – which dates back to the 13th century and is commonly referred to as Swarkestone Bridge.

The authority also said the replacement would cost "many millions of pounds".

Several months later, it has now said that efforts to fund the project have "not so far been successful".

This comes after the route once again has become the centre of a traffic "perfect-storm", creating a raft of congestion in the area.

The weekend car crash caused damage to the structure itself – which could take some time to repair. The route was closed off temporarily, causing traffic to build. Temporary traffic lights are now in place.

Gas works being carried out by Cadent are also in place near the river crossing and will see another set of temporary lights in the vicinity of the causeway until near the end of February.

This comes just months after another car crash, in October, caused damage to 15 metres of the ancient monument. 

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: "We are always looking for funding sources for a replacement for Swarkestone Causeway, but have not so far been successful.

"The cost of a new bridge would be many millions of pounds and until a detailed option appraisal has taken place it is not possible to say exactly how much it might be. 

"The cost of any alternative would be influenced by the route needed to connect to it as the River Trent flood plain will present significant challenges."

Cllr Barry Lewis, leader of the authority, had said in November that: "An important part of my vision for the area is to look at Swarkestone Causeway and find the funding to build a new crossing over the river.

"We will need to be very creative in how we find the funding for a new crossing, which would cost many millions of pounds. We are working hard to look at all sources of funding with all our partners.

"But if we do manage to secure the money to replace the causeway then the existing structure could then be used as a multi-user recreation route, which could prove to be a tourist attraction and bring revenue to the area."

The route is also known to be plagued by overweight lorries crossing it on a regular basis, despite the 7.5 tonne weight restriction.

More than 15,000 vehicles cross the Grade I listed causeway every day.

In 2010, the county council put out a feasibility study into  the possibility of a bypass for Swarkestone, to free the town from years of bottlenecking congestion – largely caused by heavy goods vehicles misusing the mile-long historic causeway.

Officers had said that by introducing a faster bypass route with speed limits of 60 or 70mph, motorists could be encouraged not to use the 40mph ancient route.

     

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