More changes have been made to the extended temporary traffic restrictions on the damaged Abingdon Bridge in an attempt to ease traffic flow and still give pedestrians and cyclists space.
In a routine inspection of the bridge in May it was discovered that stonework to the eastern side of the northern arch of the bridge – which carries the A415 across the River Thames – became displaced, reducing its strength.
Temporary traffic lights were installed by Oxfordshire County Council to enable vehicles up to 44 tonnes to continue to use the bridge safely by avoiding the weakened area.
But there were angry complaints by local people over regular delays on surrounding roads exacerbated by the lights.
In late July, the council moved the temporary traffic signals further apart to create a dedicated space for cyclists and pedestrians over the bridge in a bid to ‘turn an issue into an opportunity’.
However, they have now been moved closer together to reduce the amount of time motorists will have to wait and to ease traffic queues.
Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for highways management, said: “This has been an excellent opportunity to trial a scheme which encourages more cyclists and pedestrians to use the bridge sustainably. We know the benefits provided by the extra space was really welcomed by many people who felt safer as a result. We’ve learnt lessons from it and will continue to look at ways of increasing active travel across our network as we try to cut emissions and improve health and safety.
“We recognise that the end of the school holidays means we have to modify the scheme for the benefit of all road users, and I would like to thank the public who took part in our consultation for taking the time to give us their valuable feedback.”
The repairs will require the use of a specialist subcontractor and advice from Historic England, due to this being a scheduled monument, and the Environment Agency, as access will be required from the River Thames which flows below.
Work has still not started on the bridge and the county council has said it could be several months before work can start on repairing it and possibly more than a year before it is completed.
The council has explained that the complex nature of repairs on the historic bridge, which was built in the 15th century, and uncertainty over the availability of subcontractors with the specialist skills required, factors in the amount of time the work will take.
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