120-year-old Bristol footbridge to close for two years of ‘essential repairs’

Vauxhall Bridge will close for two years from next monthVauxhall Bridge will close for two years from next month
Vauxhall Bridge will close for two years from next month
Commuters and residents will need to find alternative routes as Vauxhall Bridge closes next month

Just days after the Gaol Ferry Bridge reopened following a year-long restoration, another major Bristol footbridge is to close.

Part of Bristol City Council’s £16 million investment in six New Cut bridges, the next bridge in its programme of rolling repairs is Vauxhall Bridge.

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A Grade II listed footbridge which links Southville and Spike Island, crossing the New Cut and part of the Bristol Harbour Railway line, Vauxhall Bridge will close next month for a detailed inspection followed by essential repairs.

Work to secure the long-term future of the bridge will include removing the surface, repairing the structure and replacing some cross beams, as well as masonry repairs and repainting the bridge.

Vauxhall Bridge will be completely closed from when the restoration project begins on October, 2 and is anticipated to remain closed for up to two years.

The length of the repairs will depend on what condition the bridge is in upon further detailed inspection, which is only possible when the full structure can be accessed once it is closed.

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Vauxhall Bridge is made up of two structures which together span the New Cut of the River Avon between Cumberland Road and Coronation Road in Bristol.

At around 82 metres in length, Vauxhall Bridge is more than 20 metres longer than Gaol Ferry Bridge.

The bridge is a Grade II listed, heavyweight structure built around 1900. It is made up of two riveted, wrought iron lattice trusses with a wrought iron troughed deck supported on wrought iron cross plate beams.

It was originally constructed as a swing bridge but, as river traffic stopped using this route to get to the shipyards along the New Cut, it has not been swung open since 1935.

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The bridge connects Southville with Spike IslandThe bridge connects Southville with Spike Island
The bridge connects Southville with Spike Island

The bridge was bombed and shot at in the Second World War, with some damage still visible.

The new link bridge was constructed in 1986 and consists of a main span made up of two steel warren girders joined by a steel deck, accessed by two flights of steps and two step ramps.

Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “We are working at pace on our bridges programme and will be tackling Vauxhall Bridge next, as we continue with major investment in Bristol’s infrastructure after the sticking plaster approach of previous administrations.

“It’s part of our £16 million investment plan to safeguard the future of six bridges that cross the New Cut. Of this, we are investing £3 million to make sure Vauxhall Bridge is fully restored and is the first time it will have such major works since the 1980s.

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“The restoration will make it almost as good as new so that it can remain open for years to come, strengthening our valuable connections across the river and supporting people who walk and cycle in Bristol.

“We know that it’s important to complete the works as quickly as possible and so I would like to thank everyone for their patience while we carry out these essential repairs, while we continue to plan repairs for other bridges along the New Cut.”

Signage at and around the bridge will be installed and letters to local residents and businesses issued shortly, advising of the upcoming closure.

While Vauxhall Bridge is closed, the diversions will signpost people along routes via Gaol Ferry Bridge or Ashton Avenue Bridge.

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The nearby Chocolate Path reopened on September 8, with access from both ends. Access from Vauxhall Bridge to the Chocolate Path was removed during the stabilisation and repair works to the path and Cumberland Road, with the barrier reinforced to prevent people from accessing the site for their own safety.

As this access point will be closed during the works to Vauxhall Bridge, it would have been uneconomical to dismantle the barrier only to reinstall it almost immediately after. The Chocolate Path running under Vauxhall Bridge will remain open throughout the works.

The restoration project will cost in the region of £3 million, which is being funded by the Department for Transport’s City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement, administered by the West of England Combined Authority.

Four more New Cut bridges are set to be repaired over the next five years, including: Sparke Evans Park Bridge, Langton Street Bridge (Banana Bridge), Bedminster Bridge (twin bridges) and Bath Bridge (twin bridges).

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As Bristol’s population continues to grow, the council is also reassessing the business case for a new crossing over the New Cut between the Coronation Road and Camden Road Junction and Cumberland Road. Plans for a new bridge there were previously cancelled in 2015.

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