Cleveland Bridge is going to have to be closed to ALL traffic – for three to four months – from April.
That’s the message – given to Bath Newseum today by Cllr Joanna Wright who is B&NES joint cabinet member for traffic.
The news follows confirmation of a government grant of three and a half million pounds to enable urgent strengthening repairs to the Grade 11* listed bridge to begin.
The Roads Minister, Baroness Vere, was in the city today to make the announcement.
The 193-year-old bridge – currently affected by an emergency 18-ton weight limit on vehicles crossing – provides a vital link from the South Coast to the M4.
It was built for the Duke of Cleveland – on the site of an ancient ferry crossing – in 1826.
Considered one of the finest late Georgian crossings – of its type – in Greek Revival style, it was reconstructed in 1928 and repaired and strengthened in 1992.
The government money comes from a 93.4 million pound package the Minister will announce this morning which is being shared out to repair roads and bridges across 32 local authorities.
More than 12 million is being spent here in the west and includes work in Bristol and Swindon.
Bath Newseumcaught up with Bath Councillor Joanna Wright, joint B&NES cabinet member for Transport Services at her home, and asked what the grant would mean. Her co-star – by the way – is the family pet – Mrs Cat!
As was mentioned in Cllr Wright’s interview, 1,500 people have signed an online petition calling for the 18-ton weight restriction on Cleveland Bridge to be made permanent ‘ to protect the historic asset and surrounding fragile structures, encourage active travel, enhance the World Heritage site and conservation area, whilst improving community mental and physical health.’
The online Lib-Dem website says the weight restriction has played a part in traffic calming in the area.
‘ The impact of that has been a far more free-flowing and pleasant environment enabling different choices of transport to be made. The image beneath shows Bathwick Street since the limit has been put in place. ‘
You can find the online petition at https://www.bathneslibdems.org.uk/cleveland_bridge_weight_restriction
The funding has come following a submission by Bath & North East Somerset Council to the Government’s Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.
Currently signed diversion routes, using designated roads suitable for large vehicles are in place for through traffic while those vehicles needing to go into Bath city centre will be directed to the city from the west using the A4.
The distance on the diversion from Bath to Warminster is 25 miles; the normal distance using the A36 is 17 miles. The diversion would add eight miles to journeys for traffic heading to the south.
The bridge was originally constructed in 1826 for horse-drawn vehicles and pedestrians, now carries 17,000 vehicles a day including more than 600 HGVs.
The repairs to Cleveland Bridge will require one of the most significant road maintenance projects the council has undertaken for many years.