M20 partially reopens hours later than planned after bridge collapse sparks traffic chaos


A motorway has partially reopened more than 24 hours after a footbridge collapsed, sparking hours of traffic chaos on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Traffic can now use the westbound carriageway of the M20 in Kent, Highways England said, after a stretch between junctions one and four was cleared following Saturday’s accident, which saw the structure stuck by a digger being transported on the back of a lorry.

The reopening was several hours later than planned and Highways England said the eastbound carriageway of the motorway, which leads to the Channel Tunnel and the Port of Dover, remained closed following the incident close to where it meets the M26.

The bridge came down between junctions three and four shortly after noon on Saturday when a digger being transported on the back of a lorry collided with it.

A motorcyclist in his 50s was taken to hospital in Tunbridge Wells with suspected broken ribs following the incident while the driver of the lorry was treated for shock at the scene.

The road was expected to reopen by lunchtime on Sunday, although that has since been put back.

Stuart Thompson, a Highways England spokesman, said: “We have worked overnight and removed part of the structure on the London-bound carriageway.

“We had hoped to reopen by lunchtime. Having done some of these assessments we needed to do more safety work before we reopen it. We will look to get it open again as soon as possible.

“We are look at this evening, hopefully earlier, although we are reluctant to put a time on it.

“It is a very, very complex situation. There are lots of different things needed to be done and we needed to be confident it is safe before we reopen it.”

Alex Magaisa was driving past the lorry involved just as the bridge collapsed, with his wife and two young sons in the car.

They were on their way to Gatwick Airport to catch a flight to Belfast to see family for the bank holiday weekend.

The University of Kent lecturer, 41, said: “My instinct was just to drive through. My wife saw the bridge falling and there was a big noise. I had to manoeuvre through the debris.

“We stopped afterwards for about 30 minutes, and there was another car with a family behind us. Luckily no-one seemed to have been hurt.

“It was a big shock. It’s only just starting to sink in now what might have happened. We were right in the line of fire and we could have been crushed.”

Andy Sunnucks, 24, who also saw the incident, said: “We were about 15 cars back on the same carriageway as the collision.

“It looked like a lorry had jackknifed, and I could see half the bridge was missing. We went to have a look and the back end of the lorry was in pieces.”

The graphic designer, a passenger travelling from Maidstone to Sevenoaks, said: “The motorcyclist was laying down underneath his bike.”

An estimated 13 million drivers are expected to take to the road for a holiday or an outing between Friday and Monday, according to the AA.

Saturday was expected to be the busiest single day for motorists embarking on leisure journeys, with 10 million drivers predicted to be getting behind the wheel.

News Source TelegraphNews

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