Just when it looked like there was light at the end of the tunnel, with the end of the MetroBus roadworks finally in sight, commuters in north Bristol have been dealt a crushing blow with the news that a section of the A4174 Ring Road near Hambrook is to be reduced to 50 percent capacity (one lane each way instead of two) for up to 12 months starting in June or July.
South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) says the work is required in order to undertake essential maintenance on one of two parallel viaducts that carry the road over the River Frome between the Hambrook lights and Bromley Heath Roundabout.
The southern viaduct, which carries the westbound carriageway, requires work on: pier (support) strengthening, bearing and hinge replacement, drainage improvements, water proofing, parapet replacement, and concrete repairs.
A separate major project to provide improvements for cyclists and pedestrians using the bridge would also require closure of the southern viaduct for a year, if done independently of the structural work.
Money for the work will come from two grants already allocated to SGC by the Department for Transport; these originate from the Challenge Fund and the Cycle Ambition Fund.
After considering a range of options, councillors have decided that the work will begin in June/July this year for a maximum duration of one year, but with an aim to try to secure additional funding to accelerate the work programme and reduce the timescale. Both the essential maintenance of the viaduct structure and the improvements to widen the shared footpath for cyclists and pedestrians will be combined, which means that the total maximum time required on site would be one year rather than two.
The total cost of the work, when carried out over 12 months, is estimated at £5.9 million. Accelerating the programme, should additional funds be secured, would add between £0.8 and £3.7 million, depending on the timescale reduction required (ranging from 15 to 30 weeks).
SGC’s head of street care and transport Mark King said:
“The extent of the work requires the southern viaduct to be completely closed to all traffic for the duration of the project. This is because the removal of the worn out parts of the structure will mean it is too weak to safely carry any traffic until the maintenance is complete. During the closure, all traffic will be diverted on to the northern viaduct as other options would require a significant one to two mile diversion on to narrow roads.
“We appreciate that this is one of the busiest sections of the A4174 and understand that this will cause significant delays and inconvenience and we apologise in advance. We will be doing everything we can to keep the public regularly informed about the viaduct work and how to plan their journeys accordingly. We are also looking at the scheduling of current and future transport schemes, utility work and other roadworks to ensure disruption to road users and communities is kept to a minimum, wherever possible.”
Asked about the possible effects west of the Hambrook junction on the M32, an SGC spokesperson said:
“We expect that the work at Bromley Heath Viaduct will see A4174 eastbound traffic queuing back to the Coldharbour Lane junction at peak times, and on occasions we anticipate that these queues will stretch even further across key routes.”
“It is expected that queues will exist around the immediate area during most of the day and these could, if people do not consider their travel options or use alternative routes, easily stretch as far as Coldharbour Lane.”
The spokesperson added:
“We are working closely with local businesses, health care providers, schools and community organisations so that the traffic management for this scheme provides the best solution we can achieve for all needs and methods of transport.”
“Ahead of the work starting, we will be engaging with local residents to get their suggestions and feedback and will be publicising details of these engagement events soon.”
The impact of the viaduct work on the Stoke Gifford Transport Link, due to open in September, is unclear, but local councillors have previously expressed the concern that it will open up the opportunity for traffic to use Bradley Stoke Way to avoid congestion on the M4 and M32.
More information about the project is available at www.southglos.gov.uk/bhviaduct
• The Journal has learned that MetroBus has made the decision to not run services along the affected section of the Ring Road until the work at the Bromley Heath Viaduct has been completed.
Images: 1 The two Bromley Heath Viaducts. 2 Map showing location of carriageway closure on southern viaduct.
More information: Agenda and reports for SGC’s Environment and Community Services Committee meeting on 18th January 2017 (item 11 refers)
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 16 & 17). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Note: In the magazine version of this article, the potential timescale reductions achievable should additional funding be secured were incorrectly stated as “ranging from 37 to 22 weeks”; this should have read “ranging from 15 to 30 weeks”.
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