Oundle’s North Bridge is in need of urgent structural repair work, but Northamptonshire
County Council has walked away from the problem due to lack of funding.
The council’s solution is to impose a 3 tonne vehicle weight limit, which will mean considerable disruption to deliveries, schools, public transport and construction.
Since 2014, the bridge has been undergoing daily structural monitoring to assess its weight bearing load. Over this period considerable movement was detected, and it was determined that seven of the thirteen arches are unable to carry their full weight bearing capacity.
There is a 7.5 tonne weight restriction for traffic passing through town, but public service vehicles, emergency services, delivery lorries and permitted construction vehicles are exempt.
The estimated cost is £750,000, which the council says it does not have.
Tom Pursglove MP is making enquiries about obtaining funding from the Department of Transport Challenge Fund for highways maintenance.
Pick Arthey is located just over the bridge and takes delivery of 30,000 litres of fuel per week. With the weight restriction, their fuel delivery vehicle, plus the car transporters will need to travel through the centre of town.
Stagecoach, which runs the X4 bus, is concerned that the restriction will undermine the viability of the bus service through Oundle. Any diversions will mean an extra bus, adding to unplanned costs.
Business owners predict that the weight restrictions will bring “mayhem” and “paralysis” to
Oundle roads and increased congestion in the Market Place will reduce customer footfall.
If large vehicles are redirected down South Road, a one-way system around town along West Street and South Road may need to be enforced.
It is expected that the weight limit will begin in June. The NCC have not indicated how long it will take before funds are available and work can begin.
The council said the bridge is “not in immediate risk of collapse”, but that action needs to be taken to prevent further damage.
South Bridge was strengthened after years of repair work and now has a 18 tonne amenity weight restriction which could accommodate heavy vehicles. Alternate routes will require a wide detour through surrounding villages.