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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 July 2006, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Force chief attacks bridge safety
Sheppey Crossing
Mr Fuller said the bridge was not a normal section of road
The Chief Constable of Kent has criticised the government over the safety of the new bridge which connects the Isle of Sheppey to mainland Kent.

In a letter to Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman, Mike Fuller said there were "significant concerns".

He is worried because there are no emergency telephones, lighting, or hard shoulder and is calling for a reduction in the speed limit.

Dr Ladyman said he was "absolutely convinced" the bridge was safe.

"The experts who designed it and the Highways Agency who built it follow the highest standards of safety," he said.

"You can always engineer more safety features into any stretch of road but if you over engineer a stretch of road you're just wasting taxpayers money."

Until the police show some evidence I don't think we should be overly concerned
Stephen Ladyman

In his letter, Mr Fuller said the speed limit on the bridge should be reduced from 70mph to 50mph because the bridge was not a "run-of-the-mill section of road" but a 35m (115ft) high river crossing in an exposed location.

He added: "There are increased risks and consequences unique to driving over a bridge with relatively steep gradients and bends in the carriageway."

Mr Fuller also said the absence of emergency telephones was a "specific concern" given the isolated location of the bridge.

But Dr Ladyman said he did not believe the bridge should be treated any differently from any other stretch of trunk road.

"The police should have suggested these things when we were first designing the bridge and when they were consulted.

"If they want to now introduce a speed limit we should use the same criteria we should use for any stretch of road. We should wait and see if there is any record of accidents.

"Until the police show some evidence I don't think we should be overly concerned."

The bridge cost 100m and was opened by Dr Ladyman on 3 July.


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