Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Trent and Mersey blocked

From my rather flippant post yesterday - an update

Text from the Derby Evening Telegraph

A 200-YEAR-OLD bridge could be demolished after a trailer smashed through it and plunged into the canal below.

And more than 50 holiday-makers face having to cancel their boat trips this weekend while the mess is cleaned up.

Fertiliser was dumped into the Trent and Mersey Canal at Stenson on Monday when a tractor and trailer tried to cross a brick bridge running over the waterway.

Part of the bridge, which is on a private road between two farmers' fields, collapsed as the vehicles passed over it.

This caused the trailer to swing down and disconnect from the tractor before crashing into the canal below at about 1.30pm.

Click here!

The tractor driver, thought to be a contractor, jumped from his cab and was unhurt.

The canal was blocked and British Waterways lifted the trailer from the water yesterday with a crane.

A round-the-clock clean-up operation is under way to clear the fertiliser from the canal.

British Waterways said it did not how long this would take but it was hoped the waterway could reopen by the end of the week.

The organisation also fears the bridge, which is a listed structure, may have to be knocked down if re-building it will not make it safe.

When a structure is listed, it means it is protected and any alterations respect its character. Demolition is allowed only after very careful consideration.

Caroline Killeavy, general manager for British Waterways, said: "The bridge is a listed structure, so if repair work cannot reconstruct the bridge to a safe, usable standard it may have to be knocked down entirely."

Mrs Killeavy said the fertiliser posed little threat to wildlife.

She said: "We caught the spill early and have been monitoring the water and can say there's very little chance of any risk to wildlife."

British Waterways said it would conduct a full investigation into how the accident happened.

But it did say the cause of the collapse was "due to the vehicle colliding with the parapets on the side of the bridge and the excessive load of the vehicle."

The combined weight of the tractor and trailer was 18 tonnes.

Police are not investigating further.

Marion Baldwin, company secretary for Midland Canal Centre, which runs Stenson Marina, said holiday-makers would be affected..

She said: "We get between 30 and 40 boats coming through the canal most days, so already there is quite a pile-up either side of the bridge.

"Not only that, but it doesn't look like the canal will be opened for at least a few days.

"We have over 50 people booked to use boats on the canal at the weekend and many of those will have to cancel because they just won't be able to get through.

"There's also a child's birthday party booked on one of the boats and that won't be able to go ahead, which is a real shame."

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