Bridge weight restrictions introduce traffic chaos

The first phase of the preparations for the work to repair Oundle’s North Bridge has been completed.

Northamptonshire Highways told the Oundle Town Council in late April: “We are currently aiming for the second week of July to start works.” Because the bridge is a listed structure, Highways is required to obtain listed building consent for all work.

Last year, an inspection and further investigations revealed that much of the bridge’s structure had become weakened and refurbishment work was needed.

To protect the structure while repair work is carried out, a three-tonne weight restriction has been placed on the bridge. Bollards for vehicle width restrictions were also installed.

The new bollards were damaged within days of installation.

The new bollards were damaged within days of installation.

The works for the width restrictions to Oundle North Bridge started on 25th March and took approximately six days. The A605 and Barnwell Road junction signals were operational in mid March.

The early phase of the road works caused significant traffic disruption on the A605 with long delays while the new traffic lights were installed. One commuter said: “It took me two hours to get from Clopton to Oundle.”

To avoid this traffic, motorists used short cuts to avoid the heavy traffic. Many cars took a “rat run” diversion through Pilton, travelling at great speed over a small humped back bridge and along the narrow country roads, through Stoke Doyle, causing chaos along the single lane through the village.

The width restrictions on the bridge have caused further aggravation, with some drivers complaining about the slow speed at which some vehicles inch through the bollards, which were damaged by collisions from cars within days of being installed.

Heavy goods vehicles must now enter town via Oundle’s South Bridge, which underwent a lengthy repair programme and was strengthened in 2016.

Northamptonshire County Council confirmed that it had received £6.7m from the government for road maintenance. Of the amount handed to the county council, £1.3m will be used to repair and strengthen the North Bridge.

Tom Pilsbury
May 2019