The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

8:33am on Wednesday, 19th January, 2005:

Bridging Finances


There's a bridge over the A12 between West Bergholt and Colchester. I have to cross this bridge several times a day.

Actually, there are two bridges. The original bridge was suspected as being weak, so it was closed for tests. Another, single-lane bridge was constructed alongside it. This was done 2 years ago (although we were going over the weakened bridge one lane at a time for a couple of years before this). I've no idea how much the "temporary" bridge cost, but the amount of work done to build it was such that it can't have been much less than it would have cost to strengthen the existing bridge (if indeed it didn't cost more). The money comes from different pots, though: Colchester Borough Council is responsible for there being a road between West Bergholt and Colchester, and Essex County Council is responsible for there being a bridge over the A12. Note that this was explained to me by a taxi driver, so may not be the official version...

The temporary bridge gets heavy use, and (as my wife noticed the other day) will need resurfacing soon. The original bridge has two trenches dug across it, but nothing else. I suspect that the "tests" that the highway people are conducting to see if it's weak are designed to subject it to cumulative water damage so that after 5 years they can confidently say it is weak.

The temporary bridge, being single-lane, is controlled by traffic lights. These are generally pretty good, except when a pedestrian or cyclist using the path sets off the detectors in the middle. However, they can occasionally be very flaky. Recently, they have been sflaky rather more frequently than before. The fault seems to be that approaching vehicles are not being detected, so it's possible to wait at one end while traffic comes from the other, then see the cars at the other end stop because their light has turned red, then nothing, then their light turns green again and they all come onto the bridge when it should be your turn. The only way this cycle is broken is if another vehicle coming up behind you gets detected, or if you decide enough is enough and jump the light.

For legal purposes, the following paragraph is entirely fictional and should not be regarded in any way as reflecting reality.

This morning, I jumped the light as I took my wife to the train station. I approached the bridge as a few cars in front of me were going through on green, then before they'd all got through the light went to amber. I could see that there were no vehicles waiting at the other side. None of the cars in the string in front of me stopped; by the time I got to the bridge, the light had been red for about 2 seconds. I went through, but the car behind me didn't. When we got to the other side, the light for the (non-existent) oncoming traffic was green.

This isn't unusual. On the way back from Colchester about a month ago, I was stuck behind a bus that was waiting for the light to turn green. The people at the West Bergholt side were also waiting for the light to turn green. Neither light turned green. Eventually, the bus driver decided he'd had enough and set off. We all followed. About three seconds later, our light turned green (I suspect because the detectors finally detected some motion). In the bridge's early days, I saw a police car do a similar thing.

This state of affairs is likely to hold until we get our old bridge back. I'll probably be too old to drive a car by then.

Referenced by Yet More Palette Problems.

Referenced by Bridge repairs.

Referenced by Canvassing.

Referenced by New Bridge.

Referenced by Colchester Chaos.

Referenced by Bridge Woes.

Referenced by Google Er....

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).