Replacing the Northam Railway Bridge with a new bridge carrying a dual carriageway, as outlined in Monday's Echo, would lead to an increase in the number of vehicles using Bitterne Road West and Northam Road to the detriment of the environment and the health of the many families living close to the carriageway. 

Highways England has no interest whatsoever in the lives of those who live on the roads it is responsible for, as became obvious when it proposed the A3024 "improvement" a few years ago. Neither does it have any concern for the environment which its projects damage or the cultural value of historic structures.

READ MORE: Update on plans to replace busy railway bridge with HS2 money

Highways England is, however, determined to reduce congestion on part of a motorway (outside the city) by directing as many vehicles as possible through the city instead - hence the roadworks at Junction 8 and the Windhover roundabout, and Highways England's desire to see a dual carriageway all the way to the city centre.  

Some time ago I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Council asking for information regarding the extra CO2 emissions associated with the construction of a new bridge using, inevitably, large amount of concrete.

Unsurprisingly, the council does not have this information which means that councillors and planners have made a decision with no idea of the environmental impact - surely the most important aspect of the scheme - and this in addition to increased highway runoff which will exacerbate the pollution of the River Itchen.

I use this bridge almost daily and know, as do other users, that congestion is not a problem except in the morning and evening rush hours and even then it is nothing as serious as that on Winchester Road and The Avenue.  We can't widen all of our roads - Cobden Avenue, Shirley Rd, Hill Lane, Onslow Road, Beavois Valley, Portsmouth Road etc etc - just to solve a problem limited to an hour or so morning and evening.

The number of vehicles using Northam Road and the railway bridge has not returned to pre-pandemic levels and the significant switch to home-working looks set to stay; a dual carriageway in this location is more about increasing capacity for additional vehicles than reducing congestion.  How does this sit alongside the council's stated aim of reducing the number of vehicles entering the city centre and improving the city's air quality?

If the council approves this dual carriageway, its next idea will surely be the widening of the Bitterne Railway Bridge - in the original Highways England plans - with the loss of a number of mature oak trees supporting a wide biodiversity.

I urge everyone who cares about the environment, the health and wellbeing and the history of the city to oppose the unnecessary and potentially damaging proposals for the Northam Railway Bridge.

Lindsi Bluemel, Bitterne Park