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Crash leads to more calls to protect historic bridge

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

  • Swarkestone Bridge

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A DRIVER was arrested after a crash left his car hanging off an historic bridge in South Derbyshire.

The man, in his 30s, was arrested on suspicion of being unfit to drive after his car was left teetering over the edge of Swarkestone Bridge.

The crash, which happened at 11.45pm last night, caused considerable damage to the bridge, which was closed for around an hour while fire crews rescued the driver, and has led to calls for more to be done to protect the 13th century causeway.

Officers from English Heritage were called in to assess the scale of the damage as the driver remained in custody today.

A Derbyshire Police spokesman said: “A car collided with the wall and was hanging off the bridge. The bridge was closed while firefighters got the car to safety.

“The driver was attended to by paramedics and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.”

Campaigners in South Derbyshire have long called for measures to ease congestion and direct traffic away from the bridge.

A new bypass has been suggested as a possible solution but, should it gets the go-ahead, work is unlikely to begin until 2020 at the earliest.

Highways chiefs are also hopeful work to repair the bridge, which has long been in the pipeline, could begin this year.

Derbyshire county councillor Linda Chilton, who recently led an unsuccessful campaign for a pedestrian crossing to be installed along the nearby A514, said the causeway was ‘not fit for purpose in the 21st century’ as it is regularly swamped with traffic on a main route from Swadlincote to Derby.

Mrs Chilton said: “I have not stopped banging the drum on this since I was elected. There has always been issues with Swarkestone Causeway. Some have said leave it, some have said put another road in.

“It is a wonderful monument but what will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? There is a great volume of traffic on what is a rural road.

“I want to save it. One big disaster on the bridge and the south of the county will be cut off.”

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