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Months of misery for Stafford motorists as bridges are repaired

By Tom Oakley | Stafford | Transport | Published: | Last Updated:

Drivers are facing more traffic chaos in Stafford when a busy route is shut for almost five months.

St Thomas Bridge

The closure in Baswich Lane will initially run between July 23 and September 2 over the railway bridge near the Saxonfields Estate.

A week later, the road will be shut further up at the historic St Thomas Bridge from September 10 until December 14.

Network Rail is behind the scheme for the railway bridge, which carries the road over the Trent Valley Line between Stafford and Rugby.

The second closure is part of the Canal and River Trust’s plans to strengthen the Grade II listed St Thomas Bridge, which carries Baswich Lane over the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and has become badly damaged.

James McCann, 22, who lives near Weeping Cross and travels daily along the route, said: “I think it’s going to be a nightmare. Baswich Lane is really busy – particularly during rush hour in the morning and evening.

“Closing the bridge is going to cause problems on the roads. It means all the traffic will have to use the A34 and there will be hold-ups.

“Obviously the bridge needs repairing and these things take time but it is going to be a pain.”

Bridge works will involve the removal of the original backfill of the arch and then replacement with a reinforced concrete slab which is better able to take the load. Drivers will be diverted just under six miles along the A513 through Milford, Holdiford Road and Tixall Road towards Stafford Crematorium.

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Protected

The Canal and River Trust apologised for any inconveniences and insists the work will mean the landmark bridge will be protected ‘for many years to come’.

Spokesman Stephen Hardy said: “St Thomas Bridge is a historic structure and over the years it’s load capacity has reduced.

“The works will involve digging out the bridge deck, which the road sits on, and putting in a reinforced concrete saddle which will strengthen the whole structure.

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“We’ll then put in a new bridge deck and we’re also repairing the brickwork in the bridge arch.

“We understand people’s concerns and apologise for any inconvenience but this Grade II Listed bridge is both an important part of the area's history and carries a busy road so it’s important that we get in there and carry out these works.

“Once completed the bridge will be stronger and better able to handle modern day use. Importantly it will also mean that the heritage and character of this part of the canal are protected for many years to come.”

The dates for the closures are subject to change and National Rail says it is ‘yet to confirm’ the dates for the work to take place.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are working with Stafford Borough Council and other partners to plan essential waterproofing and resurfacing work to the railway bridge in Baswich Lane, Stafford.The improvement work, part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, is vital and will extend the lifespan of the bridge, keeping our network safe and reliable.”

“We are yet to confirm the dates for the work to take place and the planning process, including a suitable diversion route, is ongoing.”

Tom Oakley

By Tom Oakley
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist

Express & Star reporter responsible for covering Walsall and Staffordshire. Got a story? Email tom.oakley@expressandstar.co.uk or call 01902 319482.

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