23 Feb 2016

Cabinet asked to bridge the gap for essential repairs to key transport link

A historic bridge connecting Bristol city centre and the floating harbour needs further repair work to safeguard its future.

A report for next month’s Cabinet meeting has provided an update on the restoration of Prince Street Bridge and highlighted the extensive corrosion which is affecting its structural integrity.

The 137-year-old bridge, which closed to motorists in August 2015, could remain shut until autumn this year while essential repair work is carried out so it remains fully functional for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians for decades to come.

Councillor Simon Cook, Assistant Mayor for Place with responsibility for Transport, said:

“Prince Street Bridge holds considerable operational value for Bristol’s complex and challenging transport network, which is why it’s important we invest in its future.

“We recognise the difficulties its closure has caused but this work is designed to safeguard the resilience of our highways and keep traffic moving smoothly through the city centre.

“Engineers have worked hard and there has been significant progress since the bridge closed last year, but during their work the inspectors discovered the damage was more widespread than initially reported.”

The Cabinet will be asked to approve £1.2million to cover the cost of the extra work, with the increase met by the council’s transport capital programme.

In 2014 experts recommended that corroded sections needed replacing along with repairs to the bridge’s support structure. 

Last year, the council’s insurers advised that the bridge be withdrawn from use until the structural repairs and other work to the swinging mechanism were complete. The crossing was, therefore, closed to vehicles in August 2015 and the construction of a temporary footbridge was completed in October 2015.

Since then the swing bridge has been decommissioned and work started on further investigation and repairs. The work was originally estimated to take six months to complete, but after enclosed sections had been dismantled and cleaned in December 2015, the full extent of the problems in the previously hidden internal structure was revealed.

Cllr Cook added:

“The city centre is undergoing a period of considerable change which in the long-term will help establish an efficient and reliable public transport service. In the meantime, fewer cars on the road will make it easier for everyone to get around so we would encourage people to use our Park and Ride or other bus services where possible, in addition to walking and cycling.”