There is a small but very vocal minority of people, anti-bridgers, who passionately argue that the Ash Road bridge should not be built. I respect that. However, I fundamentally disagree with them. While they argue very specific technical points, I believe they have missed the whole point of the bridge:
“There is transport analysis in the planning application, with the new road layouts, and they don’t show traffic lights on the Dover Arms roundabout. But these signals were included in the consultation information supporting the Supplementary Planning Document for the same area, published long after the traffic analysis. This application does not dovetail with the SPD.”
Arguing against the bridge in this way, I believe, is to miss the point of building a bridge in the first place. So here are my three reasons Ash Road Bridge MUST be built:
Ash Road Bridge MUST be built: Safety
Within walking distance there are many schools and nurseries. Ash Grange Primary School, Ash Walsh C of E Primary and Ash Manor School all have students who cross the tracks daily. To create a ‘safer railway’ Network rail have closed over 1,250 level crossings since 2009. That alone should tell you that removing crossings makes a safer railway.
As more and more houses are built on both sides of the track (regrettable though that is) more and more people will be walking over the line to get to the shops, library, churches, schools and businesses. With more footfall comes more risk, and unfortunately also more traffic, which leads me on to my next reason.
Ash Road Bridge MUST be built: Environment
166 trains a day equates to approximately 7 per hour. That’s more than one every ten minutes. As Network rail report each time a train forces the barriers down, cars and pedestrians are forced to wait 4 minutes: that’s 11 hours a day of cars sat idling all through Ash. As mentioned before, with all the schools in the vicinity, what effect is all that pollution having on our children? What is the environmental impact of having so many cars sat pumping out fumes for 11 hours a day?
If they wanted to build a coal power station in Ash, I would be the first to object, and so I have to object to this. Queues of cars sat burning fuel are proven to cause asthma. A bridge however will allow traffic to flow freely reducing queuing and so improve air quality, our health and the impact on the planet.
Ash Road Bridge MUST be built: The Legacy
I understand that people don’t like change, but change is happening. Houses are being built all over Ash, and a common argument among anti-bridgers is that the bridge will encourage more houses to be built. The reality is that the developers really don’t care if there is a bridge or not. They are building for profit, not our welfare, so why object to the bridge? You are just making things worse for yourself.
If it is not built now, it will never be built. That would be a shame for us, but it is worse for people in the future. I’m sure the A331 Blackwater Valley bypass was controversial before it was built. But who among us could possibly want it closed now? It is essential to all our travel, and will be for generations to come. As we benefit from bridges now, that were built by Victorians, so too will people in 2150 still be benefiting from a bridge we build now. To argue against it for the sake of money or because you just don’t want it is foolish, and it misses the bigger picture.
Infrastructure is taken for granted. But if we don’t invest in it today, it won’t be there for us tomorrow.