AN ENORMOUS bridge erected to ‘ensure the safety’ of train passengers has been branded a ‘monstrosity’ by those neighbouring Uttoxeter Railway Station.
The £1.4 million structure, which has steps and wheelchair ramps, will replace crossings rated the second-most-dangerous in the Midlands.
With thousands of passengers using the dangerous crossings each week, many of whom attend meets at Uttoxeter Racecourse, Network Rail told the Post and Times the new bridge will be operational by November.
However, residents of Willsford Avenue are concerned their house values will plummet now the ‘eyesore’ facility, which is fully visible from their back gardens, has been built.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “The footbridge is being built to facilitate the closure of two level crossings at the western end and the one used for the racecourse at the east end.
“This is a safety-driven initiative to fully and permanently separate pedestrians and rail traffic.
“Once the bridge is open and the crossings closed, we’ll remove the whistle boards on both rail approaches, which will bring the benefit of reduced noise for those living nearby.
“We have carried out significant dialogue with local residents to keep them informed of our plans and the need for the work.
“This included a fortnightly newsletter, which has been hand delivered to all the adjacent properties advising of progress and the planned works.”
Willsford Avenue homeowner Dave Tanner said: “This has just gone way over the top.
“If you look at the drawing they sent us, it doesn’t look anything like it.
“I was expecting something a lot smaller and shorter.
“Luckily, we have a tree that obscures the bridge from some angles in our back garden but it’s still hugely visible and is undeniably an eyesore.
“There’s not a lot we can do about it now but I’m quite dissatisfied with the way it’s turned out.
“I’m concerned about security as there doesn’t appear to be a gate installed yet and people will have easy access to our land.”
Another Willsford Avenue resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It backs out into my living room.
“I’ve just bought the place and, while I was aware they were building the bridge, I wasn’t fully aware of the sheer scale.
“I’m going to heighten my fence and install blinds because it really is horrible to look at.
“I’m genuinely concerned about security, too. If they don’t lock it at the top overnight, people will be able to easily get across to our back gardens.
“You get a lot of kids skateboarding in the station car park in the early hours of the morning and I’d be concerned about them coming over and keeping us awake at night.”
Uttoxeter Racecourse executive director David MacDonald said: “We’re delighted that the new bridge will help ensure the safety of our customers, particularly on busy race days like the Midlands Grand National.
“The crossings were highlighted as some of the most dangerous in the country so we fully supported the need for a bridge.
“However, we’re also very mindful of concerns raised by local residents regarding the proximity of the bridge to their houses and I hope Network Rail will listen to their concerns and look at possible solutions.”