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A relic of a bridge that never was

In the 1960s, there was a grand plan for a new motorway-grade bridge over the Tyne, known as the Central Motorway East Bypass.. This was designed to relieve the pressure of traffic from the Tyne Bridge, which is still a pinch-point on the local road network sixty years on.

Though the Central Motorway East Bypass was never built, remnants of it intriguingly remain. Most notably, when the Central Motorway East was built—now the A167(M)—three spurs were constructed to connect with the new bridge. Two of these were never used, and just sit as unused road space, painted over with white hatch marks. Over the water, spurs also still exist on the Gateshead Viaduct, designed to connect the other end of the bridge. These are all quite conspicuously odd when driving past them—visible turnoffs to nowhere—but not as readily visible to pedestrians.

But one spur of the Central Motorway East was used, at least temporarily, and so it highly visible to people walking past it. Seemingly unfathomable to safety-conscious eyes today, a ‘temporary’ ramp was constructed off the spur, allowing direct access to the motorway from a tiny local road called Camden Street. This ‘temporary’ ramp ended up being used for about forty years. Nowadays, it’s gated off, though I frequently find myself strolling past it. There are also student flats which directly overlook it: perhaps the only student flats in Britain which overlook a disused motorway junction?

I suppose it can be considered a relic of a bridge that never existed… or perhaps, a relic of an era when we envisioned cars as the future.

My emotional response to this piece of abandoned tarmac is surprisingly complex. It’s a stark reminder of how our own lives often bear similar vestiges of unfulfilled plans. Each of us has dreams and grand designs that, for one reason or another, never fully materialise. Sometimes, these unrealised aspirations leave visible imprints, serving as poignant reminders of the paths not taken or goals not achieved.

However, much like the unused sections of the Central Motorway East, these remnants are not necessarily markers of failure. They possess the capacity to intrigue, to provoke curiosity, and to inspire introspection. They are tangible proof of our ability to dream and to plan—even if the outcome doesn’t align with our initial visions. Unfulfilled plans, despite their inherent sense of disappointment, play a pivotal role in shaping us. They influence our future decisions and contribute richly to our personal narratives.

Just as the remnants of the unbuilt bridge add an unexpected layer of interest to Newcastle’s cityscape, our unrealised dreams—visible or not—add to the complex tapestry of our lives.

This post was filed under: Post-a-day 2023, .

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