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Bridges’ repairs bring £1.1m bill
VITAL work to repair bridges on a country lane cost the taxpayer £1.1m.
Tadpole Lane, on the northern boundary of Swindon, was shut for nearly nine months and only reopened to traffic on February 1 after extensive work on the bridges over the River Ray and the Swindon and Cricklade Railway line.
The work was delayed after engineers discovered structural problems with the bridges, particularly the river bridge, were much worse than first thought.
Delays were also incurred after contractors had to remove several Second World War tank traps.
And there was controversy among residents after the historically significant traps were destroyed without consultation.
The bridge taking the road over the River Ray has been completely replaced and widened to two lanes.
The bridge over the Swin-don and Cricklade Railway, which is a 130-year-old Grade II-listed structure, has been repaired.
Although both bridges are now able to take heavier vehicles, the 18-tonne weight restriction on Tadpole Lane will remain in place for environmental reasons.
The rail bridge is the responsibility of Swindon Council, while the river bridge is the joint responsibility of Swindon and Wilt-shire councils.
Both councils arranged for the work, which has been carried out by Swindon Council, to take place at the same time to minimise the length of the disruption and reduce the cost.
A Swindon Council spokes-man said: “The work had to be done because both bridges were in poor condition, and the road did not meet current highway safety standards. “As with all major projects, things can be found once work starts that weren’t anticipated at the start.
“This was the case with the rail bridge. “When the earth banks around the brickwork were removed, the structure was in a worse condition than anticipated, and it needed a different type of repair to the one that had been planned.
“This is a joint project with Wiltshire Council and the costs will be shared, with Wiltshire Council meeting half the cost of the river bridge replacement, and half the project set-up costs. “At this stage it isn’t possible to be sure of the final cost because there is still some finishing off to do, although the road is now fully open.”
Jacqui Lay, the Wiltshire councillor for Purton,said: “It is surprising it is over by that amount but there has been a learning curve in terms of bridges of that type.”