M6 bridge badly damaged in HGV crash still awaiting repairs 18 months on
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Highways England have confirmed they will install a new pier on the bridge - but not until around autumn, around two years after the crash happened.
The access bridge, serving farmland in Barnacre, was struck by a HGV which crashed into a support column in July 2018.
The lorry became wedged underneath the low-level bridge, between Broughton and Galgate, but its driver survived with non life-threatening injuries.
Highways chiefs feared that the bridge would collapse once the lorry was removed, and engineers were brought in to assess the safety of the structure.
The complex operation forced Highways England to close the M6, between J33 (Galgate) and J32 (Broughton), for more than 24 hours whilst urgent repairs were made to secure the bridge.
The damaged concrete column had to be removed and replaced with a temporary steel support, which remains in place 18 months later.
Highways said ‘extra protection’ has since been added to the bridge support, but fears in regards to the future of the bridge remain from some locals.
Colin and Verity Gravner own Turner’s Farm, situated on either side of the M6.
The bridge serves as an accommodation road for the 135-acre farm in Strickens Lane, with the crossing providing access to grazing land on the other side of the M6.
Mrs Gravner, 60, said she has concerns about the structural integrity of the bridge and she has questioned whether it is ‘fit for purpose’.
“There’s been concerns about the bridge for years, even before the lorry crash,” said Mrs Verity.
“We were told about plans to replace the bridge in 2014, but Highways said they had run out of money and it was put on hold.
“The last we heard from them was just before Christmas. We were told the plans were still ongoing, but it was still at the ‘design and tender stage’.
“If they are planning to take the bridge down or do extensive repairs, we will need at least 12 months notice, because farming requires you to plan well ahead.
“It just doesn’t appear to be a priority for them. But that bridge is around 50 years old now and if work needs to be done on it, it needs to be done sooner rather than later.”
But Highways England has confirmed that it has no plans to replace the bridge in the foreseeable future.
Instead, a new pier made from reinforced concrete will be installed later this year, to replace the temporary steel support currently in place.
A spokesman for Highways England said: “We are not replacing the bridge and it was never our intention to do so even before the bridge strike.
“We are going to install a totally new pier. This is what was struck on the hard shoulder in 2018.
“We are looking to do that during the next financial year – probably this autumn.
“Replacing the pier will obviously involve less disruption for motorway users than a full bridge removal/replacement.”