Long-awaited Chichester railway bridge may be built soon after campaign

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Plans to build a new footbridge to replace a notorious Chichester rail crossing look poised to get the green signal to go ahead at last – but with a ‘smaller and simpler’ design than originally proposed.

Campaigning for a bridge instead of the light-controlled foot crossing, in Fishbourne Road East, has been going on for more than a decade, but the project has run into delay after delay.

Three people have been killed at the crossing over the years, one of them a 78-year-old woman, and there have been a number of unrecorded incidents and near misses.

A Network Rail spokesman said: ‘We plan to submit a formal planning application for a footbridge this summer. This will include a smaller and simpler design than previously put forward and, if approved, we will work to install it as early as possible in 2013.’

It was previously planned to build the bridge this year, after a meeting in the city at the beginning of the year, attended by representatives of Network Rail, the county, district and city councils, Fishbourne CE Primary School and Fishbourne Parish Council, was told rail chiefs had the money in their budget.

The bridge is reckoned to be the busiest of its kind in the country.

The project, originally estimated at £1.5m, has hit a series of hold-ups.

In July, 2002, Railtrack said either a bridge or an underpass would be built and the aim was to start work in 2003-2004. But despite a series of plans since then, nothing has materialised.

With a planning application due to be submitted soon, a starting date in 2013 finally appears to be firmly on the cards.

City and district councillor Clare Apel, who represents the west ward on the two councils, said work should start as soon as possible. ‘There is a great urgency to provide this bridge,’ she said.

‘Why is it taking so long?’