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By Haddenham Webteam - 23rd December 2016 9:30am
Marlow may not be on our doorstep, but some of us have been following the news about damage inflicted on Marlow Bridge when a hugely overweight heavy goods vehicle, owned by Eastern European haulage company Girteka Logistics, tried to cross it in September.
Despite very clear signage and strategic road narrowing on the approach to the bridge, the lorry driver still attempted the crossing — his vehicle was more than 10-times the weight limit!
Needless to say, the bridge had to be closed for repairs, which took about 10 weeks to complete. During this time, traffic movements in and out of the town became extremely fraught.
However, no sooner had the bridge been re-opened than another overweight commercial vehicle had to be stopped before causing further damage. It seems that protecting the bridge from inattentive or negligent drivers is proving to be a bit of a challenge, as the latest missive from Bucks County Council makes clear.
Protecting Marlow Bridge
Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) is aware of the concerns of Marlow residents about the continued use of the newly reopened Marlow Bridge by vehicles exceeding the 3 tonne weight limit.
As early as the first day of reopening, overweight vehicles were seen crossing, or attempting to cross the bridge in spite of the weight limit.
Mark Shaw, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Transport explained the complications with trying to enforce the restrictions:
"This is a difficult problem to solve. It seems likely that many drivers do not realise how little 3 tonnes is. For instance, a Range Rover carrying four people and their shopping could easily exceed 3 tonnes. As such, we will be trying to educate local residents on identifying the weight of their vehicles if they are regular users of the bridge.
'There are measures in place to deter heavier vehicles from crossing the bridge already, for instance the width-restricting bollards. However, as we know from experience, this does not put off all drivers. Additionally, using width or height restrictions only works some of the time, because not all heavy vehicles are necessarily overly wide, or tall.'
TfB is investigating other potential deterrents that could be put in place, and in the meantime is liaising closely with Thames Valley Police (TVP) to discuss closer monitoring and enforcement of the weight limit.
Inspector Scott Long of TVP Roads Policing says that the team will be carrying out targeted enforcement of the bridge's weight limit in the New Year.
He said: 'We are taking all violations of the weight limit very seriously, due to the impact on the town's residents and businesses of the two month closure of the bridge after an HGV collided with it in September. We are working with TfB to come to a solution, and would like to reinforce the message to drivers that ignoring the weight restriction could result in penalties.'
Understanding Vehicle Weights
TfB has started its educational campaign about weight restrictions with a short info video. The video, shared on social media, explains the difference between 'unladen weight' and 'maximum authorised mass', the latter being the restriction in place on Marlow Bridge.
As defined by the Department for Transport via the government website:
'Unladen Weight' is the weight of the vehicle when it's not carrying any passengers, goods or other items. It includes the body and all parts normally used with the vehicle or trailer when it's used on a road. It doesn't include the weight of the fuel or, if it's an electric vehicle, the batteries.
'Maximum Authorised Mass' is the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it's being used on the road. This is also known as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) or Permissible Maximum Weight.
Identifying Your Vehicle's Weight
Weights will be listed in the vehicle owner's manual and are normally shown on a plate or sticker fitted to the vehicle. The plate or sticker may also show a gross train weight (GTW), also sometimes called gross combination weight (GCW). This is the total weight of the tractor unit plus trailer plus load.
For example, a Range Rover Estate has a Maximum Authorised Mass of 3,050 kg, which is 3.05 tonnes, and a Volvo XC90 Estate 2.0 T8 has a Maximum Authorised Mass of 3,010 kg (3.01 tonnes). Neither is suitable for crossing Marlow Bridge, with its maximum authorised mass weight limit of 3 tonnes.
For those looking to while away a little time during a lull in the Christmas holidays, there's also an information slideshow on Youtube here.