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Middleton St George residents' fears over bridge replacement plans
RESIDENTS concerned about the long-term impact work to replace a bridge over a railway line through their village have spoken about their concerns.
Network Rail has plans to replace the bridge as part of a package of improvements at Dinsdale station, in Middleton St George, near Darlington.
The bridge is being replaced to allow freight trains travelling to and from Teesport to use the line.
On Saturday (August 17), more than 200 residents attended a public meeting at which Network Rail and contractor Carillion attempted to allay some of their fears.
When residents gathered on the bridge on Monday (August 19), it was clear that those efforts had not been successful.
June Hope owns a house right next to the station and fears weeks of disruption during the works will be followed by further turmoil caused by noise from the additional freight trains that will use the line once the project has been completed.
She said: “I do not want to move, I have lived here for 36 years, but nobody seems to be thinking about the possible damage to my house.”
Daughter Lesley Broad is concerned about the vibrations caused by trains rumbling past day and night, as well as possible impact on house prices.
During the bridge replacement work, which starts in September and is scheduled to last for 18 weeks, the two halves of the village will be ‘cut off’, leaving residents faced with a six-mile round trip to get from one side of the village to the other.
This is of particular concern to Anne Thomas and her disabled husband, Steve.
Mr Thomas receives visits from carers three times a day and the couple are anxious that the care visitors are still able to get through.
It is understood a temporary footpath will be in place during the bridge replacement work.
Residents see the bridge as a hub for the community – it is right in the centre of the village – and are concerned that infrastructure such as trees, benches and planted areas will disappear when it is replaced.
Network Rail said the replacement bridge is unsuitable for the kind of robust planters residents have asked to be installed on it.
Councillor Steve York, who represents the village at parish and borough council level, said Saturday’s meeting was a missed opportunity for rail bosses.
He said: “It left people without a lot of the answers they were looking for, which is frustrating.
“Meetings such as this should not leave people feeling frustrated – this was a golden opportunity to reassure people, and it was wasted.”
Fellow councillor Doris Jones said she hopes to secure further meetings to discuss the project, although The Northern Echo understands there is little hope of the work being postponed.
Simon Robinson, project manager for Network Rail, who was at Saturday’s meeting, has pledged to discuss residents’ issues with the individuals concerned.
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