REPAIRS for a crumbling 15th century bridge are due to start soon after more than a year of traffic “chaos”.

Temporary traffic lights on Abingdon Bridge, which carries the A415 across the River Thames, has been causing traffic delays and congestion on surrounding roads since May 2021.

The 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 after it was discovered that the stonework to the eastern side of the north arch of the bridge had become displaced, reducing its strength.

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However, the county council has confirmed they hope the work will start in October this year or earlier if a single supplier can be used to reduce the “pricing period”.

County Councillor Nathan Ley, who represents North Abingdon, asked at a meeting of the full council last week for an update on the repairs.

He said: “After the new administration took over this council in May 2021, we were immediately informed that Abingdon Bridge apparently had some significant long-term structural defects in need of repair.

“While acknowledging constraints in the labour market, the need to use special subcontractors, and the bridge’s status as a schedule ancient monument, it has now been well over a year with no hint of any remedy.

Herald Series: Abingdon Bridge Street. Picture: Rebecca Whittaker.Abingdon Bridge Street. Picture: Rebecca Whittaker.

“Is there a plan and timeline for any proposed works, and could this information be shared?”

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Councillor Andrew Gant, cabinet member for highway management at the county council, responded: “The proposed repairs to Abingdon Bridge have been delayed primarily due to engineering resource issues.

“These works are planned to be carried out later this year – October.

“However, our term consultant/contractor has been requested to complete the repairs sooner if possible, including the use of a single supplier such that the pricing period should be able to be significantly reduced, enabling the works to start earlier than shown.”

Frustration was growing among drivers who felt they were being ignored due to the lack of action on repairs to the bridge especially with similar work on Oxford's Folly Bridge getting underway in April.

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

Shopkeepers on Bridge Street said the build-up of traffic was causing problems with deliveries and car parking for staff.

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However, the county council stated it was waiting for warmer months to repair the bridge because the “temperatures for the lime mortar are more favourable and the water levels in the river are lower and slower.”

It added that that the repairs will be done from a series of barges beneath the arch of the bridge.


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This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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