Progress continues to be made to develop a long-term engineering scheme to strengthen Wootton Bridge.
The structure has been operating under a reduced speed and weight restrictions since July, when surveys identified weaknesses in the bridge.
Initial work enabled the bridge to remain open – albeit with the restrictions in place – while Island Roads investigated a long-term design solution and began the complex process of gaining the consents required for the work.
Progress has been made on both fronts and it is now hoped that remedial work to restore the bridge to its 40-tonne limit could begin in November and be complete by February 2016. The cost of the work to upgrade the structure will be met by Island Roads under the PFI contract.
In simple terms, the scheme will involve the sympathetic upgrade of the bridge parapets to meet modern day national standards, while maintaining the original appearance of this historic bridge. A waterproofing layer will be introduced to protect the masonry from water ingress through the carriageway and a specialist strengthening system, consisting of a series of tie rods and reinforcing bars, will be installed in both arches to restore both the capacity and condition of the structure.
While traffic management plans have yet to be finalised and agreed, it is envisaged the scheme can be completed without a full road closure.
Residents will be given the opportunity to see outline plans and ask questions about the proposed work when Island Roads’ mobile visitor centre visits Lakeside Hotel & Spa car park at Wootton on October 22 between 2.30pm-6.30pm.
Dave Wallis, Island Roads operations manager, said: “Further investigation works were carried out last month, to help us design the best possible solution and we are now in the process of securing the remaining approvals required before being able to embark on the final scheme.
“We are very aware just how important this bridge is to the network and would assure road users that we are doing all we can to work with the council to restore the bridge to its 40-tonne limit as soon as we possibly can.
“Island Roads would like to thank the residents and businesses for their ongoing patience during this time.”
Councillor Phil Jordan, Executive Member with responsibility for PFI, said: “I am very pleased with the progress being made by Island Roads to reinstate this critical element of our road network.
“It has been challenging throughout the busiest time of the year to have such restrictions on Wootton Bridge, but this has been essential to help maintain the integrity of the historic structure while enabling traffic to flow. I look forward to the works beginning during the low-season, and to the road finally being reopened by the spring.”