The £3.4 million project to refurbish Victoria Bridge is on track for completion by the end of the year. The initiative is being carried out by Bath & North East Somerset Council to make the structure suitable for modern use for the growing population of Bath Riverside and link the Upper and Lower Bristol Road for people on foot and cyclists.
The form or appearance is similar to the original – erected by local engineer James Dredge in 1836 – and the first example of his taper-styled suspension bridges.
In the past week the bridge was released and is now holding its own weight, which now means that the temporary truss it was suspended from, can be removed.
The removal of the temporary truss will require a continuous closure of the passageway across the Bridge for a duration of three weeks, starting on Monday 3rd November.
During this three week period the towpath and river will in general remain open for use, with some discrete short closures required from time to time for safety critical operations. The route across the bridge will be reopened to the public at the end of the closure period, with only minor bridge closures required from thereon until completion of the works before the end of the year.
Balfour Beatty began construction in March this year which involved the bridge being taken to pieces and reassembled with a series of new, steel components added to make the structure sufficiently strong enough to meet modern bridge design standards. The original Bath stone towers have also been cleaned and conserved and some new foundations built to support the Bridge’s north and south backspans.
Councillor Caroline Roberts (Lib-Dem, Newbridge), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The Council is delighted to be making the financial commitment needed to restore one of Bath’s key pieces of infrastructure to support the growing local community and help people move around the city more conveniently. Cyclists are also better connected to National Cycle Route 4.”
Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities, said: “Bath’s great strength is symbolised by Victoria Bridge. We are a beautifully innovative city and the design by James Dredge in 1836 was the first example of his taper suspension bridges. This is a Grade Two Star listed structure and it will be rightfully refurbished for future generations to enjoy.”
Pedestrian diversion maps can be found on the project webpage at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/victoriabridge. The nearest footbridges to cross the river are the Windsor Bridge, Stanier Bridge and Midland Bridge. Announcements and timings for forthcoming closures will continue to be communicated by the Council’s Contractor Balfour Beatty via the Twitter feed: @_VictoriaBridge, on the project information boards at either end of the bridge, as well as on the Council’s Victoria Bridge webpage.