LORRIES smashing into a bridge are putting the lives of those walking along Linlithgow’s Union Canal at risk.
Colin Galloway of Linlithgow Union Canal Society (LUCS) has been left exasperated after a series of collisions in the past few months between articulated lorries and the narrow bridge at the bottom of Manse Road.
As the lorries turn on the bridge, they are knocking masonry blocks out of line and, in the most recent incident, also damaged iron railings.
Colin said: “If the railing drops onto the towpath it could kill someone. Thousands of people use that towpath each year so there is a good chance that someone will be hit. And then who will be liable?”
That question of who is responsible remains unclear.
Scottish Canals is responsible for the waterway, Historic Scotland has authority over the bridge as a designated ancient monument, and West Lothian Council is responsible for the roads leading onto the bridge.
Colin added: “They are having all the correct meetings and noting the problems but nothing is being done!
“This cannot continue. They have got to make a decision on the length of vehicles using the road as they are getting stuck, and there is also the problem with lorries reversing up Manse Road when they realise they can’t get over the bridge.
‘‘If they leave it long enough there will not be any problem, as the bridge will have been demolished.”
But this week, a Scottish Canals spokesman said: “We have inspected the bridge and are satisfied that it poses no danger to members of the public.
“The damage is mainly confined to the bridge’s railings and there is no indication of weakness in the stonework but we will continue to monitor the situation. Repairs will be carried out in the next few weeks.”
He added: “The issues with the bridge stem from the fact that it is not suitable for HGV use. The structure has been damaged on a number of occasions and almost all of those incidents have involved a heavy vehicle.
“Each repair requires considerable time, effort and expense, and causes significant disruption for towpath and road users.
‘‘Scottish Canals obviously has no control over the traffic that uses the route but we would support any action taken to reduce the frequency of accidents on the bridge.”
Responsibility for the roads lies with West Lothian Council but their options are limited.
A spokesman said: “Lorry drivers are responsible for choosing their routes and we would urge drivers of long vehicles to use alternative routes, as this bridge is clearly not suitable for long vehicles.
“Several weeks ago, we erected several signs on the approaches to the bridge, two of which are on Manse Road, which state that the bridge is ‘unsuitable for long vehicles’ but our options are limited in terms of implementing further measures.”
He added that they would not be able to impose a weight restriction as the bridge can carry up to 44 tonnes.
He said: “The problems are caused with long vehicles using the bridge being routed over the bridge by sat nav devices.
‘‘In future, we would hope that the drivers of long vehicles listen to the advice on offer and choose an alternative route.”
A Historic Scotland spokesman said the damage had not been reported to them but they would be in contact with Scottish Canals to inspect the site and review the traffic situation.
lSee also page 7.