5:30pm Saturday 30th March 2013
By Sarah Taylor
DELAYS on Evesham’s Abbey Bridge rebuilding project could mean the 10-week full closure planned for the summer will take place later than scheduled.
Hold-ups mainly caused by recent bad weather could have put the project back by up to three months. The news was revealed at VECTA’s (Vale of Evesham Commerce and Tourism Association) annual meeting by a civil engineer from Hochtief, the contractors building the bridge.
Tony Rowland, chairman of VECTA, said: “Members were informed by Hochtief that a combination of poor weather conditions and flooding had provisionally put back the planned summer closure of Abbey Bridge.
“Recognising the rebuilding of the bridge is absolutely necessary, members did however voice some concern over not being informed of this delay and that no date could be given at this time.”
The news has left many people angry at the lack of communication from Worcestershire County Council. Residents and businesses in the town who have been making contingency plans for when the bridge is out of action say they want to be better informed.
Town Councillor Jim Bulman said: “It is a major worry for the traders. It is a lack of communication. They seem to think they can ride roughshod over the people of the town.”
However, council chiefs have denied the delays will mean a change to the schedule.
Councillor John Smith, county council member for highways, said: “He (Hochtief engineer) said it was about a 12-week delay. Yes, they may be behind but who’s to say that they can’t catch up? We will do all we can to keep it on schedule. The bridge will not be closed for Christmas. We are not trying to hide anything, I can guarantee as soon as we know anything we will let them know.”
Peter Blake, head of integrated transport at Worcestershire County Council, said: “The scheme is still currently working to the original time frame. A combination of the severe weather experienced over the winter and the meeting of planning conditions did mean certain elements of the work took longer to start than originally planned.”
Gerry O’Donnell, Evesham Market Town Partnership manager, said: “I’m confident whenever it closes it will be managed as well as it can be.”
As well as one lane being closed on Abbey Bridge, there are also roadworks on Pershore Road, Cheltenham Road, Offenham Road and High Street, all affecting traffic flow.
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