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Bridge Over the A303 - Six Week Closure from 8th July

Saturday 6 July 2013, 13:25
By John Smith

Temporary traffic lights on Wincanton's westbound A303 bridge

For months now we have all seen and experienced the temporary traffic lights and lane restriction on the A303 Bridge when driving to all points West. Why? A response to an enquiry sent to the Highways Agency:

...the reason for the closure of the Wincanton Interchange Bridge is to address several defects that have been found on the deck surfacing that require attention to maintain the intergrity of the structure and for the safety of road user[s].

Atkins-Skanska working on behalf of the Highways Agency, intends to start work on the Wincanton Interchange Bridge in the near future. We will be re-waterproofing and resurfacing the bridge deck, replacement of the expansion joints, installation of deck combined kerb and drainage units, and minor concrete repair on the deck bridge.

This work is currently programmed, subject to funding and will potentially last for 6 weeks, weather permitting.

- Highways Agency - read the rest here.

Map of the Wincanton Interchange Bridge closure, westbound

Our recent very cold winter has also caused serious damage to the road surface, particularly on the Western carriageway (now closed off). This Western lane was not closed off to allow ancillary repairs to be carried out. The bridge was reduced to single lane traffic to limit the amount of traffic crossing the bridge at any one time, thus relieving the pressure on the structure. This was a simple measure put into action until the major works can be carried out. But with the traffic lights causing traffic to back up, is it possible that this inadvertently causes more traffic on the bridge than normal?

Thanks to information obtained from Highways we can now confirm that the works will now start week commencing 8th July, lasting for a period of approximately 6 weeks.

Mr Tony Muir (Cabinet Office in Bristol) very kindly supplied maps showing the road closure area and the alternative routes for both heavy traffic and light traffic. So please pass this information on to everyone you know who regularly visits or delivers in this area, so that we can minimise hassle during this difficult period.

Westward inbound diversion

Westward outbound diversion

Double Whammy

With Network Rail also commencing major bridge works on the Castle Cary Railway Bridge on 8th July we have an amazing double whammy. That bridge handles a major portion of the traffic from the Bristol/Bath areas to Castle Cary and the surrounding area including Wincanton and District. With this bridge closed for circa 19 weeks all the business/residential communities in between Castle Cary and Wincanton districts will be put under serious pressure.

There's no question that both bridges are in need of urgent repairs. But where's the sense in allowing two major works to run at the same time, causing communities in between to come under the cosh? This has to be planning madness. Who is responsible for allowing this to happen? Contact was made with every agency believed to be involved, including County Highways, Atkins-Skanska, Network Rail and Tony Muir of the Bristol section of the Cabinet Office. The consistent picture given is that they have complied with all the legal obligations, and they are happy that by complying it is ok for both works to proceed.

All parties that I spoke to were exceedingly polite and eager to show that they had all done their best to comply with their legal obligations, thereby minimising the negative effects to our communities. However there was no constructive reply when asked, "Then why are the two major works still happening side by side?"

It seems that all the parties concerned feel it's all right as long as diversions are clearly marked out and that they have been advertised for a suitable required period of time.

Sadly the appeals by communities concerned have been largely ignored, evidenced by the fact that the works continue. The local communities will just have to accept that it is their lot to take all the collateral damage on the chin. What about the local businesses who find their takings greatly reduced? Is there any simple, easily worked mechanism that allows them to claim compensation?

You can bet your boots that any claim mechanism will be typically complicated causing most businesses to write it off, putting it all down to the luck of the draw. Concern for the local community would seem to be in short supply these days.

Thanks to Mandy Cochrane for the comment on the Castle Cary bridge article about insurance. Please check your insurance policies and see if this kind of loss is allowed for and check the process with your insurer. Please feedback information that may benefit businesses in the affected communities.

[Editor's Note: My knowledge of insurance is sketchy, but since making the comment on the above-mentioned article, I believe that Business Interruption insurance may only kick in after a natural disaster. Not sure a planned diversion for bridge repairs will count, but check with your insurer anyway; you never know!]


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