Moor Lane bridge to close

Plans are being drawn-up to close Moor Lane bridge in Locking Castle, Weston-super-Mare later this month, as steps are taken to ensure the structure can continue to be used safely by cyclists and pedestrians.

Over recent years the condition of the embankments and the carriageway at the bridge has deteriorated. Traffic orders in 2003 permitted a maximum weight of three tonnes, with a 6′ 6″ maximum width, but the drivers of some large vehicles failed to heed these restrictions.

In 2012 North Somerset Council carried out work to enforce those orders: there was maintenance work to the surface of the bridge and its approaches, and bollards installed at either end of the bridge restricting the width to 7′.

Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council deputy leader whose portfolio includes highways, said: “Despite the measures we have put in, the carriageway and embankments have continued to deteriorate and the various investigations we’ve carried out have identified that options for repair and making the bridge safe are very limited and cannot be justified.”

Cllr Ap Rees said that the safest and most cost-effective measure would be to close the bridge to vehicles, leaving it open only for cyclists and pedestrians.

“Last year in March, when the bridge was shut for some maintenance work, we took the opportunity to carry out a video survey count on the junctions leaving the estate that vehicles would take if Moor Lane were closed,” he said. “This showed that there were no significant delays on the highway network during the closure.”

Work to strengthen the embankments would cost in excess of £100,000 but a full structural examination would be needed before any real costings could be made. The likely future electrification of the rail line to Weston-super-Mare could also require changes to the bridge structure.

Cllr Ap Rees added: “We intend closing the bridge from Monday 25 July at the start of the school holidays which should minimise the ‘school run’ traffic flows and ease the closure in. This six-month experimental closure order would allow further monitoring of the local network and, although the car user will be directly affected, the bridge will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists and will provide a safe route to the local schools, shops and businesses of Worle.”

Signs alerting motorists of the closure are being installed at the approaches to the bridge this week, to ensure they have advanced notice of the changing levels of access.