Major Southampton bridge to be waterproofed15th December 2014
The next phase of essential bridge repairs in Southampton will begin in the New Year. The fifth and most challenging structure to benefit from DfT ‘pinch point’ funding will be Northam River Bridge. It will be the most challenging on the basis that it is the most heavily used, with up to 35,000 vehicles crossing it each day. All work on the other major bridges in the city (including the recently re-opened Central Bridge, Millbrook and Redbridge flyovers) is now complete and has been staggered over the last eighteen months to reduce the impact on traffic. Vicarage Bridge (part of Itchen Bridge) will be the sixth and last bridge to be addressed later in 2015.
The 20 week programme of works at Northam will start on 6 January and not see any full closures of the bridge. Instead, to ensure traffic continues to flow, lane restrictions will be implemented throughout the duration of the works taking the dual carriageway down to a single lane in both directions. Bus routes will also remain unaffected and will continue to use the bridge. Traffic signals along this route will be amended to minimise delays as much as possible.
Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “We realise that Northam Bridge is a critical element of our transport and highway network, which is why it is of utmost importance that we protect it and ensure its future sustainability. Of course, this means a short period of hardship and we appreciate that these repairs will cause disruptions. I would encourage motorists to please plan their journeys.
“A bridge has stood on this site for over 200 years and it is critical that we repair and protect this one now so that it can continue into the future.”
The council works with major employers in the city to reduce travel demand and support flexible working opportunities, where possible. If people are able to work from home or travel during off-peak times during these works this will reduce the peak hour demand. There will, however, be some delays for those who have to travel on this route during peak times. It is hoped that, if the weather and winter is kind, that the works may be completed earlier than anticipated. Motorists who travel via M27 to and from Southampton are encouraged to use either junction 3 or 5 instead of 7 or 8 during this period.
Northam (River) Bridge is one of the most significant structures in Southampton for carrying traffic to and from the city from the east. The 1950s steel and concrete structure is very strong, but the steel elements have become susceptible to water damage. It is therefore essential that the £1.2m of repairs take place before the structure deteriorates further.
The works will involve stripping back the old road and footway to expose the structure of the bridge and providing a new waterproof layer and road surface that should protect the bridge for over 30 years.
The highway network in Southampton has seen many improvements in recent months, all focussed upon creating a more flexible and robust future network. This has involved a number of projects across the city taking place, which, once all complete, will ensure that movement within the city will be safer and more efficient. Platform Road, one of the largest projects, will soon be fully completed and Central Bridge improvements which opened in November, have changed the way that traffic moves in this area of the city. There is now an even greater emphasis on pedestrian and cyclist movement in the city. Further changes, underway at Station Quarter, will improve the flow of traffic and the overall appearance of this area of the city too.
The Government funded package of large bridge improvement schemes will ensure the future of the key structures that support the network. The DfT “pinch point” funding that supports these works recognised the essential role of these bridges and their importance to the economy of the city and region.
Councillor Rayment added: “The council continues to work with partners to influence travel demand to allow effective management of the road network, which is constantly monitored by our Citywatch control centre. Our VIP development projects continue to progress, with the ultimate ambition of providing a robust and flexible transport network, to support businesses within the city to thrive and to encourage further economic investment in Southampton, as per the aims of our City Centre Master Plan.”