Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Drivers remove danger signs on Leven Bank Bridge

Drivers are "risking their lives" by removing danger signs and driving over a bridge deemed unsafe, Stockton road bosses have said.

Leven Bank Bridge was closed at the beginning of March after cracks appeared following heavy rain.

Divers found there had been a severe loss of sediment under the bridge which carries the A1044 over the Leven River near Yarm.

Authorities said CCTV surveillance may be used if drivers continued using it.

Richard McGuckin, Head of Technical Services at Stockton Council said: "There have been numerous reports from local residents and staff working down there who have witnessed vehicles turning up trying to move fences, acting in an abusive manner and taking their lives in their own hands."

'Washed away'

Mr McGuckin said the bridge, which has stood for nearly 200 years, was in a very "weak state".

"Unfortunately the river has taken its toll on the bridge and washed away beneath the foundations."

He said they had strengthened the barriers on the bridge to try and keep drivers from removing them.

He added: "We could put mobile CCTV down there if we felt the problem couldn't be controlled."

Mr McGuckin said it would be at least another eight weeks until the bridge would be re-opened.

Drivers have been told to use alternative routes while repairs are carried out.

The majority of the disruption is affecting motorists travelling between Yarm, Middlesbrough and Ingleby Barwick.

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