The Law of Bridge Strength—con.
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Look after itself, if any such bridge is constructed, as nearly all railway companies bridges are, under Acts of Parliament which incorporate the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845. As regards the last-named Act, Mr. Justice Warrington held that there was no provision in any of its sections which amounted to any exemption in favour of a railway company from its obligation to maintain bridges according to the nature and extent of the traffic upon, and to be expected upon, the highway of which the bridge forms part.
Mr. Joynson-Ilielta appears to be very hopeful that the important decision by Mr. Justice Warrington. will not be upset, in which view we heartily join, as will all our readers who are interested in heavy motor traffic.
We have been interested to read the comments of journals which represent the views of other schools of thought, and possibly of other interests, in this matter of bridge strength. We refer to" The Railway News and " The Surveyor," two contemporaries for the views of which we have the highest esteem. In the course of an article which appeared in the former on the 27th ult., the point is chiefly taken that the decision of the House of Lords in the Sharpness case is not affected by any common-law obligation, analogous to that of a highway authority in reSpect of a highway, by reason of the fact that the company's special Act is not silent as to maintenance, but contains an express provision, in that regard. This railway journal anticipates that, in the cas,e of the Attorney-General v. the Great Northern Railway shortly to form the subject of an appeal against the decision of Mr. Justice Warrington, the view will be taken that the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, does sufficiently -specify the strength of the bridge by requiring that it is to be made of " the height and width, and with the ascent And descent by this or the special Act in that behalf pro-,-ided; and such bridge with the immediate approaches and all other necessary works connected therewith shall be executed and at all times thereafter maintained at the expense of the Company." Our contemporary does not refer to the fact that this extract from the Act of 1845 is silent as to strength, a point which may count for something, especially in view of Mr. Justice Warrington's very explicit decision, with which Mr. Joynson-Hicks deals so fully in his current article. Our other contemporary, writing from the point of view of the road surveyor and engineer, con tents itself anent strength of structure with the brief comment that " The decision . . appears to conflict with other similar cases in which it has been said in effect that where undertakers interfere with a highway they have a perpetual liability cast upon them to maintain the bridge or other construction for the purpose of preserving intact the public rights.". This view, it is elear,, endorses the opinion of Mr. Joynson-Hicks.
'We shall look forward, in common with thousands of our readers, to the ultimate settlement of the points at issue, and we shall, of course, duly record it in our pages.