Busy Weston bridge in danger of collapsing
PUBLISHED: 00:01 20 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:26 20 December 2018
Huge lorries face having to travel down Weston-super-Mare seafront after one of the town's busiest bridges was found to be at risk of collapsing.
A weight restriction will be imposed on Winterstoke Road after significant defects were discovered.
North Somerset Council says safety is paramount but it will mean from tomorrow (Friday) buses and lorries with a mass of more than 7.5 tonnes will be sent through the town centre and by the seafront to reach industrial estates to the south of Weston.
Estimates suggest the cost of replacing the bridge will be in the region of £13million and solutions to the problem are being investigated by the council as a matter of urgency.
The bridge is owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as it built it in 1941 to provide access to the Westlands military aeroplane factory.
But its condition has gradually worsened due to vibrations from rail and road traffic and has hit a critical limit.
North Somerset Council is in discussions with the MoD over the replacement of the bridge. The MoD has earmarked £7million already to the project.
It is hoped work will start ‘very soon’ and vehicles over the weight limit will be diverted along the A370, onto Walliscote Grove Road, Carlton Street and along Beach Road.
Pedestrians, cyclists and the majority of cars will not be affected.
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, the council’s executive member with responsibility for roads, said introducing the weight limit was ‘the only option’ in order to keep the bridge open pending its future replacement.
He added: “While we appreciate this is a busy route used by many heavy vehicles travelling to and from businesses along Winterstoke Road, safety has to come first.
“We have been in discussions with the MoD over the replacement of this important structure for some time and are hopeful a resolution is close at hand.
“Their allocation of funds will enable work to start very soon on finding the long-term solution with a new bridge.
“However, in the meantime, the bridge has some significant defects and we need to reduce the strain placed on it while we negotiate a long-term solution.”
The Mercury reported in October concerns about the road’s poor condition from people living in the area.
Potholes and bumps were spotted near the roundabout to Haywood Village and Lidl supermarket, but the council said at the time the £500,000 of necessary funding ‘was yet to be identified’ for repairs.
The authority wants to install an automatic number plate recognition system on the bridge to enforce the weight restrictions.