THERE is growing frustration over lack of action on repairs to Abingdon's crumbling 15th century bridge which has been awaiting repairs for almost a year, leading to traffic "chaos".

In a routine inspection of the bridge in May 2021, it was discovered that stonework to the eastern side of the northern arch of the bridge – which carries the A415 across the River Thames – had became displaced, reducing its strength.

Temporary traffic lights were installed by Oxfordshire County Council to enable vehicles up to 44 tonnes to continue to use the bridge safely by avoiding the weakened area. However, after a year of inaction, drivers say they are sick of delays and congestion on surrounding roads.

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And with similar work on Oxford's Folly Bridge is already underway, people in the town feel they are being ignored.

Malcom Bright lives in North Moreton and works at Culham Science Centre and often travels over the bridge.

Herald Series: Malcom BrightMalcom Bright

He said: “We are not happy about it. It has stopped all the traffic flowing through here. It is quite a historical bridge, and it really needs to be looked at properly.”

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A shop assistant at Lewis Baker on Bridge Street said: “It is causing a lot of traffic build up and causing problems with people taking in deliveries.”

Maggie Minett a Florist at Fabulous Flowers on Bridge Street added: “It has always caused chaos; it causes a back up of cars and parking issues.”

Herald Series: Fabulous Flowers and Lewis Baker on Bridge Street. Fabulous Flowers and Lewis Baker on Bridge Street.

Abingdon town councillor Grace Clifton questioned why significant repairs had started on Folly Bridge in Oxford but not on Abingdon Bridge even though the repair works needed are similar.

She said: “People in Abingdon who are road users are interested in what is going on and they are getting a bit annoyed about the traffic.”

She added: “Folly Bridge is a Grade II listed structure, and the works are almost identical to what we need in Abingdon. We have had the carriageway closure here for a year which people in Oxford haven’t had to put up with.”

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In a report by County Councillor Nathan Ley, it states Oxfordshire County Council intend to start repairs of the bridge this spring.

Herald Series: Weakened area of the bridgeWeakened area of the bridge

The council highlights that it will be better to fix the bridge in warmer months because the “temperatures for the lime mortar are more favourable and the water levels in the river are lower and slower.”

The county council also adds that the repairs will be done from a series of barges beneath the arch of the bridge.

Abingdon town councillor Neil Fawcett also added in a town council meeting that the river levels are currently too high to be able to fit the required pontoon and will need to wait until the river levels drop to start the work.

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