Repair work due on historic bridge

WORK on one of Essex's most historic bridges is set to begin today .

Roddy Ashworth

WORK on one of Essex's most historic bridges is set to begin today .

Saul's Bridge, in Witham, is the county's oldest surviving cast iron bridge and is a Grade II-listed structure which carries the B1018 Maldon Road over the River Brain.

The bridge was designed by the eminent Victorian Engineer, Sir William Cubitt, and built in 1814.

It consists of nine cast iron arch girders spanning on to brick abutments.

In 1955 a reinforced concrete extension was added on the western side to carry a footway in order to strengthen the structure.

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But in recent times the bridge has been struggling to cope with modern heavy traffic and it was identified that repair work would be needed and a weight restriction imposed.

A detailed study was carried out to strengthen the bridge to enable it to meet modern standards.

The work is being carried out in a way which conserves the bridge appearance and meets the approval of conservation bodies such as English Heritage, while full listed building consent was needed to make the changes.

These will involve the strengthening of the original cast iron girders, using carbon-fibre technology, as well as cleaning and re-painting them. The concrete footway will also be strengthened.

Work has been carefully planned so that the bridge will retain its unique and historic appeal and so that the strengthening will cause as little as possible disruption to local traffic.

Norman Hume, Essex County Council's cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This project has involved a lot of consultation and I am pleased we are now able to bring Saul's Bridge up to modern safety standards.

“As the works are to be carried out on the underside of the structure inconvenience to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians will be minimal, but I would ask that people bear with us during the works so that we can get Saul's Bridge back to its former glory.”

Work is due to last for four months and road users not expected to be affected, with only minor traffic management during off-peak hours during the later stages.

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