Letters: 'Beyond belief' – readers react to three-month A35 closure
SIR – That the A35-C10 bridge at Holmsley needed replacement was obvious for decades back and the project should have had many years of planning. The suggestion now, at what seems the eleventh hour, that there will be months of total road closure (A&T, 17th December), is beyond belief.
What cost analysis has been done and funding set aside for the damage that will be done to roads employed as the diversion routes? Some of the roads are far from suitable for the volume of traffic they will now receive.
From decades back, as a chartered engineer, I had always thought that a suitable temporary solution would be a Bailey bridge, or bridges, like those designed by Sir Donald Coleman Bailey when working at the Experimental Bridging Establishment, later MVEE and finally MEXE in Christchurch.
If the Bailey bridge(s) were built parallel to the existing bridge, on short temporary road diversion(s), this would allow the new bridge structure to be built in place of and on the line of the existing steel bridge.
Even if the Bailey bridge(s) was weight restricted, such that the heaviest vehicles (laden goods vehicles) could not use the bridge(s), the reduction in diverted traffic would be significant.
Is it too late for reconsideration? Does the British army have something that could be deployed at short notice?
Would a change to the current plan cause too much loss of face? Or is the current plan now set in stone for want of adequate forethought?
SIR – I understood that part of the case for the construction of a new bridge parallel to the old railway bridge at Holmsley was to keep traffic flowing over the old bridge until construction is complete.
Road signs now advise that the A35 will be closed from 4th Jan for three months (A&T, 17th December).
If the road closure is required I would have thought the old steel bridge could have been replaced in three or four months without the extensive ground work to realign the road that has been going on for months.
I would be interested in an explanation.
SIR – I see that Holmsley Bridge is to be closed for 100 days while it is replaced (A&T, 17th December).
I have two comments on that.
The bridge is an old railway bridge. When the line closed, sometime in the 1960s I believe, it presumably passed to the highways authority, who have done remarkably little to maintain it. Even an occasional coat of paint might have extended its life.
If the railway needed to replace such a bridge, the new bridge would be built off-site and installed over a weekend. They would certainly not need to close the line for 100 days.
Perhaps the job could be contracted out to Network Rail?