Road set to close for six months to replace 'deteriorating' bridge

PUBLISHED: 08:05 17 April 2019

Essex Highways closed the road in March to clear vegetation from the bridge. Picture: ESSEX HIGHWAYS

Essex Highways closed the road in March to clear vegetation from the bridge. Picture: ESSEX HIGHWAYS

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A road in Elsenham will be closed for six months for engineers to replace a "weak and deteriorating" 140-year-old bridge.

The bridge is considered weak and deteriorating and needs replacing. Picture: ESSEX HIGHWAYSThe bridge is considered weak and deteriorating and needs replacing. Picture: ESSEX HIGHWAYS

Abbotsford Bridge is located south east of Elsenham and north of Stansted Airport and consists of a cast iron deck supported on cast iron girders.

Inspections by Essex County Council have identified that the bridge, in Hall Road, requires dismantling and replacing as it is now found to be in a weak and deteriorating condition.

The bridge, which consists of a culvert that runs under the road, was originally constructed in two different stages - the original structure is a cast iron deck supported on cast iron girders constructed in 1880 and this was extended at a later stage on the east side.

Essex Highways closed the road in March to clear vegetation from the bridge. Picture: ESSEX HIGHWAYSEssex Highways closed the road in March to clear vegetation from the bridge. Picture: ESSEX HIGHWAYS

Preparations are now being made to carry out the main reconstruction works from May 10 and these are expected to take approximately six months to complete.

This will involve the installation of a temporary footway before the removal of the existing bridge to ensure pedestrian access is maintained. The waterway will also be diverted for the works and utility supplies relocated to enable the existing structure to be removed and bridge reconstructed.

During this time a full closure of Hall Road will be necessary and advance warning signs will be on site with appropriate diversions in place when the closure is implemented.

Moyra Jackson, spokesman for Elsenham Parish Council, said: “The news of the closure of Hall Road for a six month period has been the subject of a great deal of discussion and concern by councillors and residents alike at our monthly parish council meetings. “The closure of this road seriously affects many of our residents who work at Stansted Airport, as this is the most direct route there or those using it to access the M11 or A120.

“We have been made aware that work on Abbotsford Bridge is essential and while we appreciate that, the time the road has to remain closed does seem excessive. Complete closure of this road would also affect pedestrian access to the church, allotments and residential properties on that part of Hall Road however it is hoped that a temporary footpath will be put in place to bypass the building work.”

The parish council and members of the public hope Essex Highways agree to widen the road during the closure.

“It is hoped that a meeting will be held within the next couple of weeks with councillors and highways officers to discuss the possibility of getting all the improvements to the road carried out simultaneously,” Moyra said.

“Residents of Elsenham and Ugley are already experiencing difficulties with the closure of Grove Hill in Stansted and the parish council would urge all drivers to exercise care and patience when using narrow rural roads not designed for this volume of traffic.”

A spokesman for Essex Highways said: “The reason for the longer works is to carry out a temporary diversion of the river; a temporary diversion of the utility pipes and cables across the water; to implement temporary pedestrian access and build the site compound, before carrying out the main works to remove the existing bridge and build the new one. The main contractor for the works is now in place and the work can be carried out in the necessary phases.

“Our structures engineers met with the parish council at their meeting on 1 April, where a full explanation of the process to replace the bridge was discussed. They met again with two local parish councillors to drive the diversion route and agree to put up extra signs.”

The current proposed diversion will be Hall Road, Henham Road, Mill Road, Thaxted Road, Church End, Moor End Lane, Brick End, Woodgates End, Chapel End, Molehill Green, Waltham Hall Road, Elsenham Road and vice versa.

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