GLASS panels on Adur Ferry Bridge were not smashed by vandals, an independent report has decided.
West Sussex County Council has just announced the results of the investigation it commissioned into the cracked panels.
The independent report into what has caused six panels to smash along the prestigious Shoreham bridge has ruled out vandalism in five out of the six cases.
The investigation was launched after a panel cracked in broad daylight, while pedestrians were on the bridge and the CCTV camera covering the area showed no act of vandalism.
All of the previously smashed panels have now been tested and results indicate the reason for the damage in five out of the six cases is that the glass contained an impurity called nickel sulphide.
However, damage to the remaining sixth panel was likely to have been caused by vandalism.
Pieter Montyn, West Sussex cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “It was really important for us to determine what was causing the damage to the bridge once and for all and this process has taken some time.
“On the one hand it’s good news that vandals are not responsible for this damage as we originally thought they might be. One the other, the fact that these panels contain this impurity obviously raises questions.
“However, we’ve carried out extensive testing of the glass on the bridge. Even with the panels containing this impurity they, and the bridge, are absolutely safe and people should not be worried.
“It’s encouraging that no further panels have smashed in the last five months and we are now working with the contractors to determine the next steps to remedy the situation.
“It’s entirely possible that no further panels will smash because of this impurity.”
The glass used on Adur Ferry Bridge is laminated, much like a car windscreen and, if it cracks or smashes, the structure of the glass remains intact.
As a precautionary measure, the glass is wrapped in a protective film in the event it may fracture.
The cost of repairs to the six panels that have smashed is £6,000.
The cost of the CCTV camera installed on the bridge was £20,000. The camera will remain on the bridge and remain linked to the wider Sussex Police network of cameras.
Mr Montyn added: “Adur Ferry Bridge is a real community asset for Shoreham. We know that trips across it are up by 100,000 compared to the old bridge. We know that there are ten per cent more pedestrians using it and 65 per cent more cyclists.
“There have been teething problems with it but we believe this bridge, and the way that people have embraced it, is a really good news story for the town.”
The Institute of Civil Engineering awarded the bridge its Community Benefit Award at the south east regional Engineering Excellence Awards earlier this year.