Motorists to use long-awaited bridge
By Patrick LowmanTHE first vehicles will be rumbling over a long-awaited £2.4 million bridge this morning following a final weekend of frustration for motorists.
By Patrick Lowman
THE first vehicles will be rumbling over a long-awaited £2.4 million bridge this morning following a final weekend of frustration for motorists.
As work on Sudbury's new Ballingdon Bridge – which provides a vital link between Essex and Suffolk over the River Stour – nears completion, motorists will get their first taste of driving over the new crossing.
The new three-span bridge, designed by Ove Arup and Partners, who also designed London's Millennium Bridge, will replace the crumbling Sudbury structure, which was built in 1911.
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Although the new bridge will not be open to two-way traffic until May or officially opened until July, people will get their first glimpse of the structure today – although it is still surrounded by scaffolding and building materials and the finishing touches have yet to be applied.
Over the weekend workmen moved onto the site to remove the temporary bridge that was put in place while the new structure was built.
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It was the fourth and final weekend of road closures over the bridge, which meant motorists travelling to and from Essex and Suffolk had to face lengthy diversions through a rat-run of villages, which caused inevitable delays.
Suffolk County Council's road and bridges manager, Andrew Guttridge, said: "We appreciate the patience of residents while the new bridge is being built and we have cut the number of closures from for to six to ease the disruption as much as possible."
The county council, which is leading the project, is now looking for ways in which to celebrate the opening of the bridge.
Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, the Sudbury Society and Sudbury Town Council have already come up with ideas, but county council staff are still willing to consider other options.
Suggestions so far have included using a group of Dalmatians to commemorate the bridge's mention in Dodie Smith's book 101 Dalmatians and re-enacting the opening of the old bridge when steamrollers tested its strength.
Another proposal was to use actors to create Thomas Gainsborough crossing the bridge arm-in-arm with Amicia, Countess of Clare, who financed the first structure at the site.