Lyminster bypass dilemma now crossing to stay open

Councillor Mike Northeast, with resident Terri Tanner at the crossing
Councillor Mike Northeast, with resident Terri Tanner at the crossing

LYMINSTER level crossing looks set to stay open after all, in spite of plans to replace it with a new bridge carrying the proposed A284 Lyminster bypass over the railway.

The decision is likely to be welcomed by people in the area, who feared closure of the road at the crossing would isolate them and take away their bus service.

However, it also poses a dilemma for Arun and West Sussex County councils over the new road’s design.

Network Rail has also withdrawn its £1 million contribution to the £9.27 million bypass, pointing out the cost of building a footbridge to replace the crossing could not be justified.

Now, county highways officials are pressing Network Rail to reconsider its move, Arun cabinet members heard on Monday.

County council highways officer Daniel Dei said detailed designs for the bypass were still a year away. “If we succeed in getting Network Rail back to the table, we have a year to go back to the design to take care of the future requirements to widen the road and close Wick (Lyminster) crossing.”

He added: “We will not be starting detailed designs until late 2015 or early 2016.”

The deadline was needed otherwise the bypass would never be built, said Mr Dei.

Ricky Bower, Arun’s lead councillor for planning, was worried the county council was considering building the road to a different standard if the crossing remained.

He said: “The southern end of the bypass, leading up to the bridge, would not have to be so wide as it would be if it had to have all the traffic which now goes across the crossing, as well as the traffic using the new road.”

That would mean the bypass would be unable to cope if Network Rail changed its mind. “This seems to be penny pinching to the Nth degree. I find it quite ridiculous. I always believe with roads and infrastructure we ought to be future-proofing them whenever we possibly can.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mike Northeast, Arun and town councillor, who campaigned for the crossing to stay open, welcomed Network Rail’s decision, and the fact that road and bus links could be maintained between communities on either side.

“Some of the people living in the area, particularly the elderly, could have become isolated had the closure gone ahead,” he said.

Funding for the bypass is coming from developer contributions and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership.