The start of major roadworks on the A5 near Lichfield have raised fears that lorry drivers may try to take a shortcut under the most bashed railway bridge in Britain.
Resurfacing work is being carried out at Wall roundabout on the A5, between Muckley Corner and the Weeford roundabout, from 6 to 24 July. The road will be closed in both directions, between the A46 and M6 junction 2, from 8pm to 6am every weeknight.
Although a diversion will be signposted, if drivers of high vehicles try to take a shortcut, or follow inaccurate sat-nav directions, it could take them under St John Street bridge near Lichfield City station.
Despite being clearly marked with height restrictions, the bridge has been hit 28 times in the last 12 months, making it Network Rail’s most struck bridge.
Bridge strikes cause delays for rail passengers across the country and cost taxpayers millions of pounds each year.
Martin Colmey, Network Rail’s head of operations for its Central route, said: “With St John Street bridge in Lichfield already having the unenviable title of the most bashed in the country, I’d urge all drivers of large vehicles to follow the recommended diversion signs and not their sat-nav during Highways England’s work on the A5.
“There is no excuse for drivers to hit railway bridges. Bridge strikes are entirely avoidable, put the safety of rail passengers and road users at risk, and cost the taxpayer millions of pounds each year to fix. Our message is simple – lorry drivers, plan your route and know, don’t guess, the height of your vehicle.”
The St John Street bridge is struck so often that it now has its own Twitter account (@LichfieldBridge). The local ‘Bitter Suite’ micropub, which overlooks the bridge, has named its house bitter “Bridge Strike” and gives a free half pint to every customer in the pub when a strike actually occurs. Its Twitter page (@BitterSuitePub) is also a good source of bridge strike images.