JUST as the end was in sight for roadworks that have shut a key city bridge for months, road bosses have announced it will stay closed for a further two-and-a-half months.
Central Bridge in Southampton has been closed since March as part of a £1.6 million project to replace a failing waterproof layer protecting the 130-year-old brick structure.
It was due to open in the beginning of September but will now remained closed until November.
The closure has caused major city centre disruption especially for those using the Itchen Bridge and Platform Road, which has also been the subject on ongoing roadworks.
But now the plight of thousands of drivers will not end until at least November 14, after engineers found the bridge was in worse condition than originally thought and requires more repairs.
Transport boss Councillor Jacqui Rayment said: “The bridge is over 100 years old, so the original drawings that we’ve been working to have been superseded by improvements and fixes that had not been documented, could not have been foreseen and have thrown up some challenges for our engineers.
“However, once we had finally removed the road surface, we’ve been able to add the waterproofing layer to secure the bridge structure for the future and are now working to rebuild the carriageway, including the extension of the Woolston to city centre eastern cycle route.”
To curb traffic chaos, the city council and Balfour Beatty are changing signs to reflect the new timescales and briefing local residents and key stakeholders, including bus operators and Southampton Boat Show organisers.
When completed, the bridge will have a new waterproof deck which will help to protect the structure and the arches below.
When completed, the new road layout will allow traffic to access the Itchen Bridge from Terminus Terrace. It will also provide cyclists with a more direct route into the city from Woolston as part of the eastern cycle route corridor.
These works are one of a number of initiatives across the city to manage and improve ‘pinch points’ on the highway network.
Southampton City Council received a total of £2.4 million Department of Transport grant in 2014, which is also funding improvements to the Milbrook and Redbridge flyovers, Northam River Bridge and the Western Approach Rail Bridge.