Catastrophic failure of key bridge sees £50m scheme bought forward

Fears over the catastrophic failure of a key bridge in the centre of Bristol have seen a £50m scheme bought forward.

The Cumberland Basin road system on the south of the city is a key part of Bristol’s road network.

And a report to Bristol City Council’s cabinet stated heavy traffic is causing an accelerated depreciation of the network, which opened in 1965.

The report highlighted the Avon Bridge, which connects the Cumberland Basin with Ashton Gate on the A3029 Brunel Way over the River Avon.

It said the design was “no longer approved in the UK for any new proposed highway structures as the potential risk profile of potential catastrophic failure is considered to be unacceptably high”.

To help extend the lifetime of the bridge, the council has been recommend to approve a £4m plan for inspections and structural maintenance over the next five years.

Works under the £50m plan for the whole of the road network would include structural concrete repairs, expansion joint replacement, resurfacing and re-waterproofing of bridge decks, bearing condition assessment and potential full bearing replacement, parapet containment barrier railing refurbishment and wholesale railing replacement

The report said: “Significant elements of the Cumberland Basin network are nearing the end of its intended working design life and are now deteriorating at a significant rate.

“The overall Cumberland Basin structure complex has deteriorated much faster than originally designed for, given that the current traffic figures are currently over two and a half times the projected traffic figures in 1963-1965 anticipated, with the consequential increase in structural component deterioration.

“Given the condition of the Cumberland Basin network, additional capital investment is now required to manage its ultimate depreciation and decline, and to facilitate the emerging Western Harbour Development.”