Work starts this spring on the £3.8m project to repair Bath’s historic Cleveland Bridge.
The major engineering project which is set to start mid-April is part of millions of pounds of investment in infrastructure projects happening this year to support the city’s recovery and meet its future needs.
The Grade II* listed bridge is a crucial link in the strategic road network between the A46 and the A36, carrying 17,000 vehicles every day.
However, surveys carried out by Bath & North East Somerset Council have revealed that despite routine maintenance it now needs extensive major structural repairs.
The project, funded through the Government’s Highways Challenge Fund, is expected to take seven months to complete with the bridge closed to vehicles for 12 weeks from early May until early August. However, it is not until engineers are able to inspect the bridge, following its closure, that a timeline can be confirmed.
Access for pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles will be maintained with diversion routes for vehicles clearly signposted from Chippenham, Warminster, Bristol and the M4.
Works were originally intended to take place in summer 2020, however the wide-ranging impact of the COVID pandemic has caused delays, with listed building consent only being granted in October last year. Essential maintenance on the bridge has now been timed to start after the start of the Clean Air Zone which launches on March 15.
Councillor Joanna Wright and Councillor Neil Butters, joint cabinet members for Transport Services, said:
It is essential we maintain this strategic transport route as it is vital to maintaining a thriving local economy. We have been working with the appointed contractor Dyer and Butler to come up with safe ways of working on the bridge while still enabling pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles to get across. As well as this, we are looking at temporary changes to some roads with a view to mitigating the impact of the bridge closure.
There is no getting away from the fact the closure will cause inconvenience, but we have no option but to close the bridge to vehicles due the nature of the major structural works required.
We have been, and will continue to, talk with councillors whose wards are affected by the works and diversion routes. National coach and bus operators and haulage companies are being advised of the closure and diversion routes and those who normally drive into Bath encouraged to use Park & Ride.
As the bridge will remain open to cyclists and pedestrians, I’d urge residents who are able to, to leave their cars at home and walk or cycle or scoot into the city whenever they can.
The work on Cleveland Bridge forms part of a multimillion-pound programme of investment in major infrastructure projects this year to support the city’s long-term recovery from the impact of coronavirus and to meet its future needs.
Other improvements scheduled to start later in the spring include the installation of fibre broadband and the diversion of a major gas pipeline along the towpath to prepare the former gas works for development at Bath Western Riverside.
Councillor Dine Romero, leader of the council, said:
After a year in which much of the country stood still, we are looking to the future and investing in projects which will help Bath recover and prosper.
As well as the repairs to Cleveland Bridge, 2021 will also see the start of a new program across Bath delivering fibre broadband, improving connectivity and internet speeds for many.
These are major projects and the council will strive to minimise disruption to residents and businesses as we prepare to bounce back from the economic impact of Covid-19.