What next for Cleveland Bridge?

We’ve got resurfacing work due to start in just under a fortnight’s time on Bath’s troubled Cleveland Bridge but we’re still waiting to hear how the experts are going to address the complex engineering issues discovered during repairs – which have now been going on for a year.

The resurfacing is due to take place overnight from June 12th to June 20th.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is notifying residents that the bridge will be closed between 7pm and 6am on those dates for the works, which have been scheduled to avoid Network Rail’s overnight works at Churchill Gyratory taking place from late June to the middle of August. 

The painting of the bridge is progressing with three coats having been applied and the final coat due to be completed in the next two weeks.

These works form part of the original scheme for the refurbishment of the bridge and will be completed by late summer 2022.

However, the council announced in April that traffic management is set to remain on the bridge as investigations continue into how to solve the complex engineering issues discovered during the agreed repairs to the Grade II* listed structure.

Severe corrosion was revealed when sections of concrete were removed from the hanger bars, which support the main trusses of the bridge and are essential to maintaining its structural integrity. The bars are not commonly found in bridges and the solution is proving a technical challenge, as any solution will be bespoke and there are few experts in this historic methodology.

An assessment of an option for installing a bearing under the truss to support the weight of the bridge is expected this week and will inform how repair works progress to the hanger.

Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport Services, said: “These resurfacing works form part of the refurbishment scheme which is progressing towards completion and we are aiming to minimise any disturbance to residents during the overnight closures.

“The technical challenge remains with the hanger bars and we are expecting the assessment report this week. We are confident that any proposed solution will be localised to the abutments and will not involve digging up the resurfacing to the bridge deck. We’re increasing our efforts to ensure drivers abide by the restrictions during this ongoing work.

“The complex engineering and safety-critical issue unearthed in January does not have a straightforward solution, but engineers need to be 100 percent sure the solution will not cause a structural failure on other sections of the bridge. That’s why in April we extended the temporary traffic regulation order for another six months and it has not been possible to safely open the bridge to two-way traffic. We are really sorry for the inconvenience but safety has to remain our top priority.”

All updates on the bridge can be found on the dedicated Cleveland Bridge renovation project webpage.

3 Comments

  1. Seems like a ‘sticking plaster’ solution, when something much more radical is required. And we are no closer to that, after 12 months of disruption!

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    1. Don’t be fooled. It’s not a solution to the original problem. The original problem was that 40 Tonne HGVs were destroying a bridge barely capable of supporting 18 Tonnes. No, the problem that these works is a solution to is the re-establishment of 40 Tonne through-traffic over the bridge and into our residential streets. The DfT threatened B&NES Local Highways with extortionate financial penalties if it didn’t facilitate the flow of trunk road traffic across the Bridge. And Highways and B&NES buckled – as will our Grade 2* bridge when it reopens. And don’t get me started on the air pollution and congestion that traffic will bring. ‘Sticking Plaster’? – more like a lobotomy.

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  2. Hope they don’t strengthen it to the extent that 45 ton lorries can start using it again.

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