£1m improvement plan for Boots Bridge, Manea, welcomed by MP but concern over 22 weeks closure and impact of diversion and bus services

Images show some of the accidents at Boots Bridge that have prompted a major £1m replacement bridge

Images show some of the accidents at Boots Bridge that have prompted a major £1m replacement bridge and improvement scheme. There are fears over access to Manea during the 22 weeks the bridge will close. Piicture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

County council plans to spend £1 million to replace Boots Bridge, Manea, have been welcomed by MP Steve Barclay but he has raised questions about the impact on villagers of a proposed 22 week closure.

“I am concerned about the impact that this 22 week closure will have with the need for diversions towards Chatteris,” said Mr Barclay.

He said he has written to the council questioning how residents will be kept informed “particularly if UK Power Networks are unable to move a copper cable by the end of the year”.

Pressure has been building in recent years for improvements at the bridge after a spate of accidents – at one stage last year there were six collisions in a matter of months.

“Given the number of accidents we’ve seen there, and also the opportunity this will give to install barriers similar to those at Bedlam Bridge, improvement to the road surface and signage will be welcome,” said the MP.

And he feels it important that work goes ahead as soon as practical to replace what he describes as “the old concrete bridge between Wimblington and Manea”.

One resident told him she was concerned about the bus service to Manea whilst the road is closed.

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“The last time they closed it recently for a number of days,” she said/ “They stopped the bus service meaning vulnerable old people in the village couldn’t get to the shops. “One frail lady in particular who lives on Wimblington road who is unable to walk into the village was stranded in her house for three days.

“We were able to get her some things but she enjoys going herself and her independence. Please can we make sure they simply change the route rather than cancel it?”

Another re-iterated their concern about the bus service.

She told the MP: “This could mean the end of some people’s independence or just people simply needing to get to places for shopping/appointments etc.

“What plans have been put in place please?”

Manea Parish Council is now discussing options for commuters and travel arrangements for when the bridge closes.

Earlier this year local resident Christine Baxter revealed she had been keeping a log to advise and help councillors campaigning for safety improvements.

“Every time we hear a bang I think ‘oh my God’. It’s scary because you never know what you’re going to find,” she said.

“I make so many calls about crashes at the junction that the woman who answers the police phone line knows me by name.”