Residents on a South Elmsall street have condemned a ‘disgraceful’ decision to plough ahead with a road closure, even though they say it will ‘put lives at risk’.
Part of Broad Lane, just before Broadway, was closed by Network Rail on Saturday so a bridge can be removed and replaced to allow higher freight trains to travel on the railway lines underneath.
But people living on Broadway say lives are now being put in danger, after the rail company decided not to put a temporary bridge in place.
An alternative route – turning right onto Broad Lane and then onto Stockingate in South Kirkby – is not wide enough for two-way traffic and residents are worried that ambulances or fire engines will be unable to reach them in an emergency.
Resident Elizabeth Horsfall also said parents who take their children to Carlton J&I School would be forced to pay out an extra £7.50 in petrol every week – and the road closure would add more than ten minutes on to each school run.
Residents say they were only told about the closure date a few days beforehand and that they have been left confused about how long the works will take.
In a letter to residents – and on road closure signs – Network Rail said the work would take 12 weeks, despite only having permission from Wakefield Council to close the road for eight weeks.
Residents are also concerned that bin lorries will not be able to get up the narrow lane and icy or snowy weather could leave them cut off from the rest of the town as it is not on the council’s gritting route.
Mrs Horsfall said: “We’ve never said we don’t want the work to be carried out – we acknowledge it is essential. But we have been kept in the dark, both by Network Rail and the council.
“We have asked both to answer our questions about the timescale of the work, gritting and bin collections on numerous occasions but we have hit a brick wall.
“Who is responsible for ensuring the lane is safe to travel on? Why has there been no communication with the residents? We have not been told anything by the people making the decisions and it is frustrating.
“We do not understand why a temporary bridge can’t be put in place.
“Emergency services vehicles won’t be able to get to us, but Network Rail is going ahead with the plan knowing full well lives are being put at risk. It is disgraceful.”
Graham West, highways network manager at the council, said: “The council has given permission for an eight week road closure to enable Network Rail to carry out their work.
“We have asked Network Rail to ensure this is correctly communicated by letter and to ensure their road closure signage is correct.
“If the work overruns financial penalties could be levied on Network Rail.
“Broad Lane will be gritted as and when needed. Network Rail has agreed to fund this and the council has already carried out a gritting run.
“We can also assure residents there will no disruption to the bin collection service.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Network Rail is replacing the bridge on Broad Lane in South Elmsall.
“This is in order to allow larger container traffic to pass underneath, keeping lorries off the roads and supporting the local economy.
“The road will be closed from 6am on Saturday, January 18, for approximately eight weeks.
“Our contractor will be working to reduce this period by increasing resources and shift patterns to cause the least amount of disruption to all the residents concerned and complete the project as quickly and safely as possible.
“Pedestrian access over the rail line will be maintained at all times through provision of a temporary bridge.
“Every effort will be made to keep noise levels to an absolute minimum and we thank local residents for their patience while we complete this essential improvement work.”