AFTER more than a decade of debate, changed plans and false starts a new railway bridge was used by schoolchildren for the first time last week.
The bridge, over Fishbourne Road East level crossing, was approved in January and completed just weeks ago.
Its opening marked the end of years of campaigning after three deaths on the crossing.
“I am delighted the new bridge is now operational,” said Nick Taunt, head teacher at Bishop Luffa School which is near the crossing.
“It will enhance the safety of our young people who walk or cycle.
“But I am concerned the old crossing remains open. Though it is not safe, it is shorter than the footbridge and is tempting for younger children to use.
“I look forward to a speedy closure of the old crossing.”
When the application was approved, Clive Rosby from Network Rail said the company would apply to close the old crossing as soon as the bridge was open to all users.
However, the bridge has not been popular with everyone.
Objectors said it could prove to be more unsafe than the original crossing, would take too long to use and was inaccessible to the disabled and elderly.
They also said the bridge, which has long access ramps, was a ‘blot’ on the landscape.
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