Bridge set to shut at night for major work

WORK to remove concrete beams from a north Northumberland bridge will take place overnight to minimise disruption to traffic.

The strengthening works taking place on the existing bridge at Rothbury will reach a key stage within the next two to three weeks when the old concrete beams will be lifted to make room for the new deck slab. Speaking at last week’s Rothbury Parish Council meeting, Coun Steven Bridgett said that this would take place over three nights between 6pm and 6am rather than having to close the Bailey bridge up to 40 times during the day over a longer period.

A large crane will be used to lift eight beams over the temporary bridge to another part of the site and for this reason the temporary bridge will be closed for short periods to traffic and pedestrians for safety reasons.

“There will be eight closures each lasting a maximum of 30 minutes.

“No pedestrians or vehicles, except emergency vehicles, will be able to access the bridge for 30 minutes as the beams are being removed,” he said.

“Some adjacent properties may object but the engineers are going to try to minimise the noise. Properties which will receive the most disturbance will all receive leaflets from the county council about it.

“And if everything goes to plan, the work may be completed in one night rather than three.”

The exact dates of the operation are still to be confirmed due to the effect the recent heavy rain has had on preparatory works but it is expected to take place during the week commencing May 7. Dates will be advertised on signs at the bridge and also on the Northumberland County Council’s website and alerts system as soon as they have been confirmed.

Smaller beams are to be removed from the bridge first, using a 150-ton crane, to the left of Jacob’s Ladder. The bigger beams will require a 350-ton crane.

Coun Bridgett added: “The environment protection officer is happy with the proposals in so much as the engineers have done everything then can to minimise the noise.

“These beams have to come off so we can put the stone parapets back and this is the best way to do it. The beams will be cut during the day to make them easier to move so the only real problems will be the crane noise and the fact that the site will be lit.”

Coun Mark Gilson said it ‘ticked all the boxes’ and the council agreed everything had been done to help.

County Coun Isabel Hunter, executive member for infrastructure and environment, said: “This phase of the strengthening works is an important one. I hope residents will appreciate that we are trying to keep disruption to a minimum.

“It may be that three nights are not needed for the operation but we want to make sure we have sufficient time allocated for this vital task due to the risk of high winds and the very technical nature of this operation.”