Regular delays caused by lorries hitting a low bridge in Leicestershire are causing hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage to the economy, a new report suggests.
The crossing, over the A5 near Hinckley, was hit by high vehicles 88 times between 2017 and September 2022, resulting it being dubbed ‘one of Britain’s most-bashed.’
A scheme that will improve things was recently reluctantly approved, despite fears it could cause ‘catastrophic’ traffic issues. It will see the road below the railway bridge on the single carriageway lowered.
New research by regional transport group Midlands Connect suggests the bridge strikes have cost businesses, commuters, and residents more than 4,400 hours of delays with huge financial impact for the economy each year. It is being used as evidence for upgrades on what it says is a “road of national importance”.
The Midlands Connect analysis suggests delays on the A5 and other key routes in Nuneaton and Hinckley on just four occasions in 2019 – which needed an emergency service response – cost the economy an estimated £126,000.
It said: “The true figure will also be significantly higher as this figure doesn’t account for the cost of journeys diverted onto other roads in the area and across the Midlands, or journeys cancelled due to the disruption.”
The estimates are based on the lost value of time for train passengers, cars, vans, and HGVs for business, commuting and leisure journeys to the wider economy.
A spokesman said: “The A5 sits at the heart of the so-called ‘Logistics Golden Triangle’ and is home to 2.89 million people and 1.32 million jobs, with an economic output of £22 billion.
“However, with a further 524 hectares of employment land and 1,646,742 sqm of floorspace developed as part of local plans, and around 111,000 new homes planned and 190,000 new jobs forecasted by 2031, it is necessary to improve the A5 to ensure it can support such growth.”
Stuart Bray, Liberal Democrat leader of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, called for more “significant investment in this part of the A5 corridor” to alleviate “untold misery to local businesses and residents”.
“The impact of these bridge strikes is felt across the Midlands in terms of disruption, delay and ultimately economic cost when this happens,” he said.
Constituency MP Dr Luke Evans said: “Since I was elected the Watling Street bridge has been consistently one of the 10 most frequently hit bridges in the UK, and at one stage was dubbed ‘the most bashed bridge in Britain’.
“Every time it is struck it causes huge disruption, delays and diversions, costing the taxpayers both time and money.
“I have and will continue to raise this issue to get it resolved, and I am pleased a recent planning application may go some way towards solving the problem by lowering the road under the bridge. This is a welcome solution to an issue that has blighted our community for too long.”