QUESTIONS have been asked about the cost to a local authority of repairing a narrow bridge which has been repeatedly damaged by unsuitable traffic near Thirsk.

North Yorkshire councillors were told on Monday that some drivers of long, wide and heavy lorries were still using Blakey Bridge, just outside Sowerby, despite a 7.5-tonne weight restriction on the road leading to it and signs warning that the route is unsuitable.

The county committee for Hambleton has now insisted that officers should investigate a tougher form of physical restriction on the hump-backed bridge which, according to one member, is in danger of disappearing.

The bridge is in Blakey Lane which connects the A19 to York with Front Street, Sowerby. The junction off the A19 forms part of the slip road on to the southbound carriageway of the A168 Thirsk bypass. Blakey Lane leads off the slip road through a wide junction.

Area traffic manager Eddy Hayward said it was belied that drivers of large vehicles approaching the Blakey Lane junction from the east saw a wide stretch of road ahead and did not appreciate that it narrowed to almost a single carriageway with 90-degree bends and the bridge.

Mr Hayward said a scheme was on the minor works list, awaiting funding, to modify the layout of the eastern junction with the slip road, narrowing the first section of carriageway to make it less attractive.

This would be one of a number of junction improvements to be funded by the developer of a new auction mart on a site south of Blakey Lane, just after the turn-off from the A19.

Mr Hayward said a need had been identified for new signs on the A19 warning that Sowerby was unsuitable for heavy and long vehicles. New signs indicating risk of grounding at the bridge were to be erected at each end of Blakey Lane.

He added: "I can see no excuse for drivers not knowing that the road is unsuitable for them. At the end of the day drivers are ignoring anything that is there."

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