27, August 2016
A motorcyclist has been taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs after a pedestrian bridge collapsed on the M20 in Kent. It happened between junctions 3 and 4, on the London-bound carriageway northwest of Maidstone. The M20 is the main route to the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel. The stretch of road where the accident happened was initially expected to be closed until around midday on Sunday but this was later changed to closure of an “extended duration”.
Video footage shows the top of a lorry’s trailer sheared off, and debris littering the carriageway. Aerial pictures filmed by Sky News show one half of the bridge has completely collapsed. The exact cause has not been confirmed, but Highways England said it had fallen after being struck by a vehicle. Some witnesses suggested the bridge had crumbled to the ground after being hit by a large vehicle being carried on the back of a lorry.
Kalpana Fitzpatrick, who had been driving on the motorway, told Sky News: “What we can see is two trucks squashed by this bridge and emergency services are at the scene. “There are quite a lot of people just walking around the motorway not knowing what is going on. “The side I’m on, the bridge is still hanging, and obviously the traffic has been stopped. It’s quite shocking.”
Another witness, Andy Sunnucks, 24, said: “It looked like a lorry had jackknifed, and I could see half the bridge was missing. “The back end of the lorry was in pieces. “The motorcyclist was laying down underneath his bike.” The injured motorcyclist, who is in their 50s, was taken to hospital in Tunbridge Wells, South East Coast Ambulance Service said.
Kent Police said in a statement: “It is believed a lorry collided with a pedestrian bridge which has collapsed onto the carriageway below. “No people are believed to be trapped in the debris, however one person is believed to have suffered injuries, not reported to be life-threatening at this time.
“Police are treating this as a major incident and the M20 has been closed in both directions to allow this incident to be dealt with. Traffic will be heavier than usual.” Local media reported queues of about 4.5 miles on the London-bound M20, with the A20 also badly-affected as drivers tried to find other routes.
At the scene, Sky News reporter Richard Suchet said: “The traffic chaos, the knock-on effect for traffic, is huge. “It is choc-a-block on all the artery roads around here. “But, considering how busy the roads are this weekend, it’s a miracle that no more than one person was injured.”