COUNCILLORS have attacked Network Rail for leaving a potential eyesore and safety hazard in the centre of a picturesque village.
A controversial bridge improvement scheme has been underway in Middleton-St-George for around five months.
The Dinsdale Station bridge has been dismantled and rebuilt by Network Rail to raise the height of the bridge to enable freight trains to use the line between Teesport and the East Coast mainline.
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The work – due to be completed on Friday (January 24) - has angered local residents and councillors, who say villagers have been living in hell since the works began.
Concerns levied at Network Rail largely centre around major disruption in the village, the appearance of the bridge, littering by workers and safety risks posed by the redesign.
Ward councillors Doris Jones and Steve York have called for bollards to be installed around the bridge, saying without them, it would be a matter of time before someone is knocked down.
Coun York said: “We have had five months of purgatory with mess, noise and disruption and it looks as though we’re going to be left with something at the heart of our beautiful village that is not very attractive.”
He added: “There is also a major safety issue – the village is inundated with cars at school-run time and without bollards, people will park around the bridge.
“To do that, they’ll have to drive over a footpath used by children.
“The risk of someone getting knocked over will increase massively if they don’t install bollards.”
Coun Jones said: “We’ve been trying hard to give Network Rail benefit of the doubt because we want to support anything that might bring jobs and improve industry but we’ve gone through months of sheer hell and if that area becomes used as a carpark, the situation could become life-threatening.
She added: “This is the hub and heart of our village and we are trying to take pride in ourselves by making it look nice and after five months, they are set to walk away, potentially leaving us with a massive eyesore.”
A spokeswoman from Network Rail said bollards would not be installed as new kerbs would deter people from parking.
She also said the appearance of the bridge would bed in over time and that contractors take littering very seriously and will clean up the site at the end of the works.