FURIOUS residents say they have "had enough" after a lorry crashed and became stuck under a railway bridge in a notorious Hampshire bottleneck, paralysing a town’s road network for several hours.
They say it is almost the 20th time in just ten years a lorry has got stuck under the bridge crippling roads around local homes.
Thousands of motorists were left fuming after the huge truck ploughed into a bridge in Romsey in the latest of a long line of collisions causing chaos in the town and widespread disruption for shops and businesses.
Now neighbours are demanding council chiefs improve hazard warnings in the area saying that lives are being put at risk on the busy route.
The drama unfolded at around 11.30am yesterday when the articulated lorry was travelling southbound along Greatbridge Road.
It smashed into protection barriers at the mouth of the structure and toppled sideways, leaving its cab wedged against the bridge roof and wall and its trailer leaning precariously onto railings above a stream.
Driver Cristian Negrila was unharmed and managed to scramble from the cab of the Wyvern Cargo vehicle and jump onto the Tarmacasphalt below. Police closed the road in both directions between Fishlake Meadows and Duttons Road while recovery teams launched a mission to free the stranded truck.
Motorists were left exasperated in the heat, including parents on the afternoon school run, despite some residents attempting to direct the traffic away from the area.
Meanwhile neighbours and passers-by gathered to watch and take photographs as workers from Avery Recovery used a crane and separate lorry mounted with a winch to ease the vehicle upright inch-by-inch.
They used electric saws to cut away part of the railings so it was able to be reversed away with part of its side curtains ripped and gaping open and the cab’s wind deflector mangled.
Trains were able to pass on the tracks above throughout the drama after Network Rail engineers deemed the structure safe.
The road reopened at 4pm But Andrew Parker, 45, whose house is next to the bridge, says transport chiefs must do more to improve safety along the route.
He said: “This is a nightmare. This is happening two or three times a year and it isn’t counting those who have hit it at a slower speed and have been able to reverse out so it isn’t reported. We’ve had our fence crushed before.”
He suggested a large frame with bells underneath could be erected over the road to alert drivers before they arrived, adding that lorry drivers are still undeterred by warning signs with flashing lights already installed.
He added: “It shuts the whole of Romsey down and it has a big impact on businesses.”
Nick Robson, 34, who works nearby, said: “It’s putting lives at risk and totally blocks up all of the roads. Imagine if someone was walking along at the time – they would be underneath it. And it affects businesses’ deliveries.”
Another local woman said: “It’s a complete nightmare. The signs are up and it still happens. We’ve had enough. We’ve got to stop lorries getting through the centre of Romsey. It’s not designed for these big lorries.”
A 48-year-old woman from Budds Lane, who rushed to give the driver water and helped direct traffic with her friend, said: “It keeps on happening at this bridge. They’ve got to do something about it but I’m not sure what they can do. There are plenty of signs here warning people.”
Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “We believe there are more than adequate warning signs in place for this bridge.
"It is regrettable that there has been another incident that has disrupted traffic.
"We continue to work with our partner agencies to do all we can to minimise the risk of these incidents but, ultimately, it is not possible to physically prevent the driver of an oversized vehicle attempting to drive under the bridge.”
The Echo contacted Wyvern Cargo but noone was available for comment as we went to press last night.
THE crash is the latest in a longstanding saga of lorries ploughing into the railway bridge.
Local residents have long-suffered smashes there - despite a raft of measures to try and divert large vehicles from the area to avoid the 4.3m heigh restriction.
Two years ago residents were demanding action after another lorry got stuck under the bridge.
Back then they said they had witnessed at least 18 such incidents at the spot over the past ten years.
At that time a Waltet waste truck hit the bridge and toppled over, dumping some of its contents.
Trains were told to slow down as they passed overhead due to fears over the structure of the bridge. Network Rail engineers later established that it was safe.
It came just a year after a Daf truck collided with the structure im July 2013 and roads were closed for several hours until it was moved.
A year earlier a Raymond Brown waste truck became stuck under the bridge blocking the road for three hours.
A lorry carrying a haul of seven skips needed to be eased free with a crane after crashing there in June 2011 during the morning rushour.
And in January 2008 the road was closed twice in a fortnight when a lorry carrying wood hit the bridge and learned over - just days after another articulated truck had crashed and partially brought down an electricity pole in the process.
Three flashing signs warning drivers to turn back were installed on Duttons Road, Greatbridge Road and Fishlake Meadows in recent years.
These are activated by high vehicles, and locals said that they had cut the number of accidents.
But residents and local businesses want more to be done.
They have suggested more warning signs on the outskirts of Romsey, a barrier across the road further up to prevent the vehicles getting to the bridge or stopping heavy goods vehicles taking routes through the town.