Fears 'silly games' of 4x4 drivers could damage A120 bridge in Dunmow

PUBLISHED: 14:46 30 May 2013

The bridge under which 4x4 drivers have been driving, including tyre tracks from their vehicles. Photograph by Michael Boyton.

The bridge under which 4x4 drivers have been driving, including tyre tracks from their vehicles. Photograph by Michael Boyton.

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SAFETY fears have been expressed about the antics of 4x4 drivers whose “silly games” could be causing damage to an A120 bridge on the outskirts of Dunmow.

According to Dunmow county councillor, Susan Barker, motorists in 4x4 jeeps and ‘troopers’ are believed to be latching metal chains around the stanchions and pulling their vehicles up the grass verge from the River Chelmer, which at that point is about a foot deep.

She told the Broadcast: “These 4x4 off-roaders are playing silly games by driving their vehicles through the woods and along a track either side of the river to get to the bridge.

“They are driving into the river and pulling their vehicles up the river bank to get to an area of concrete next to the bridge. The Highways Agency put in concrete bollards to stop them doing it but they’re determined to have their fun. That’s all very well, but these [bollards] have now been pulled out.

“When you’ve got a lot of people using the A120, it’s dangerous if structural damage is being caused to the bridge.”

A spokesman from the Highways Agency confirmed incidents had taken place in the past and said the latest accusation in the ongoing issue would be investigated further.

He said: “We are aware that there have been past incidents of 4x4 vehicles accessing the A120 bridge over the River Chelmer at Dunmow by driving up the side embankment of the bridge.

“In March we installed bollards on the bridge to prevent this.

“We are not aware of any incidents since these bollards were installed. Safety is our top priority and we will be investigating this matter further.”

Last year, the Broadcast reported how attempts were being made by both Great Dunmow Town Council and Little Dunmow Parish Council to pass a traffic regulation order to prevent thrill-seekers from spoiling a public right of way.

Councillors were campaigning to stop 4x4s and trail motorbikes being driven on Byways 5 and 57 during the winter when the route is at its most vulnerable.

The byways, linking Chelmsford Road and Little Dunmow via the river under the A120, are how the 4x4 drivers are accessing the bridge in a bid to test the limit of their vehicles in wet and muddy conditions.

It was reported that rivers were at risk of contamination, as Great Dunmow’s then deputy town clerk, David Green, claimed vehicles were entering the river, being driven along the river bed and then “winched out” by fellow thrill seekers.

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