Tintern Wireworks Bridge Improvements
Working in partnership with Monmouthshire County Council, the refurbishment of the Tintern Wireworks Bridge is due to get underway in spring 2022; taking around nine months to complete.
The Tintern Wireworks Bridge, which lies on the border of Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire, is in poor condition and in need of significant repairs. The bridge is jointly owned by Gloucestershire County Council and Monmouthshire County Council with Gloucestershire having the responsibility for bridge inspections and maintenance.
Earlier this year survey work was carried out by specialist contractors to establish the condition of the bridge, the extent of the repairs required and to inform the design work necessary to plan the refurbishment. This detailed study revealed that repairs are essential to prevent the bridge from becoming unsafe to use. The county council has now concluded that due to its deteriorating condition, it will not be possible to keep the bridge open for pedestrians and cyclists until October 2022, which has been suggested, without repair works.
Although the bridge is a public right of way (footpath) it has never been a publicly adopted highway as it is not suitable for vehicles to use. There is an agreement in place to allow light vehicles to access individual properties and land on the Gloucestershire side. However, the county council has the right to close the bridge if it deteriorates to such a condition that it is no longer safe for vehicles to use.
The difficult decision was made to close the bridge to vehicles in August 2021 as a result of serious safety concerns due to the worsening condition of the structure and the risk of continued vehicle use speeding up the decline.
The bridge is currently still open for pedestrians and cyclists but the condition is being regularly monitored and if necessary use will be further restricted to maintain public safety.
What are we doing?
The design work for the refurbishment is currently being finalised. Contractors will then be selected in early 2022 with work due to get underway in spring 2022; taking around nine months to complete.
- Full removal of the timber deck and replacement with a steel deck to meet the required capacity. This will have a timber look finish to meet heritage requirements
- Strengthening of the structure, including the installation of new box beams to replace the existing corroding steel infrastructure
- The structure will be fully enclosed for grit blasting and painting
- The masonry supports will be repointed to extend their life
Some of these activities make any access impossible across the bridge, as the deck will be fully removed for a significant period of the construction phase so it will not be possible to keep the bridge open while the work is carried out.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Tintern Wireworks Bridge?
Tintern Wireworks Bridge is a grade II listed bridge across the River Wye on the border of Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire at Tintern in the Wye Valley.
More information at https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1393682
Who owns and is responsible for Tintern Wireworks Bridge?
The bridge is owned jointly by Gloucestershire County Council and Monmouthshire County Council. Gloucestershire County Council is the maintaining authority with responsibility for bridge inspections and maintenance.
Is the Tintern Wireworks Bridge part of the public highway?
No. It is a public right of way (footpath) only and has never been a publicly adopted highway. It is not suitable for vehicles to use.
Why were vehicles permitted to use it?
The historic assessment of the bridge based the 3T weight capacity on all elements, in particular the timber planks, being in good/new condition.
The highway ends at the MCC end of the bridge and the bridge itself only carries a PROW and has a right of access agreement to allow vehicles to individual properties/land on the GCC side. This however is qualified by a further document whereby the council/maintaining agent has the right to close the bridge if it deteriorates to such a condition that it is no longer safe to remain open.
How will the bridge be repaired?
A full refurbishment and strengthening of the structure will be undertaken in 2022.
• The existing timber deck will be replaced with a new steel deck to meet the required capacity.
• The structure will be fully encapsulated for grit blasting and painting.
• Masonry abutments/piers will be repointed to ensure longevity.
When will the work start and finish?
Currently works are planned to start in spring 2022. This means that the bridge will be closed to all users from the start of the refurbishment work in spring for around 8 to 9 months, finishing around Christmas 2022.
What is being planned to mitigate the impact on local businesses and tourism?
A number of mitigation measures will be implemented prior to and during construction, an example of these are:
- Planned phasing of construction activities to minimise disruption e.g. grit blasting between school half-term and summer holidays i.e. June-Mid July
- PRoW to assist with advanced closure signing of the route to the bridge giving appropriate warning that the route ahead is closed, and no access is possible over the bridge into Tintern
- Web page and FAQ’s being updated frequently
- Local residents and businesses to be contacted prior to works being tendered to allow time for consultation and concerns to be addressed
Will the bridge remain open for pedestrians and cyclists during construction?
No, in order to complete works as quickly and safely as possible we will not be able to accommodate any access during the construction.
Is the bridge currently open for pedestrians and cyclists?
Yes, currently this is the case but following the results of the 2021 assessment and the deteriorating condition of the bridge means that we will be regularly monitoring the bridge and will restrict use and access as required to maintain public safety.
Have you considered the potential environmental impacts of the scheme?
Yes, all the required environmental assessments, appraisals and surveys will be undertaken. The design and construction will be tailored to account for any environmental risks. Construction activities will be programmed in a manner to address environmental constraints.
What is the estimated cost of the scheme?
We are still in the detailed design phase of the scheme prior to tendering this project. We currently anticipate that the scheme will cost in the region of £1.5 million.
When and why were the bridge and footway closed to vehicles?
The bridge has been under an advisory closure to vehicles from November 2019 for safety reasons. GCC have contacted affected landowners to make them aware of the weak bridge condition and they were advised that continued use was at their own risk. It was also requested at this time that vehicle movements be kept to a minimum and with light vehicles only.
GCC also advised local landowners in early 2020 that this closure would be enforced if vehicles continued to use the bridge excessively or exceeded the 3-tonne weight limit after two of the timber planks were dislodged.
The bridge was closed to vehicles in August 2021 as a result of serious safety concerns due to the deterioration in the bridge structure and the continued vehicle use.
Who is funding the renovation work?
The renovation scheme is being jointly funded by Gloucestershire County Council and Monmouthshire County Council.
How will construction traffic access the bridge?
Most of the construction traffic is not anticipated to require access to the bridge. Majority of the construction activities are confined within the encapsulation and will require access for construction personnel only.
Vehicular movements are anticipated to be kept to a minimum is during the initial phases of scaffolding erection. There will be an adequate weight limit imposed during the construction phase to ensure the bridge is not subjected to any adverse structural impact.
Why has it taken so long to start work on the bridge?
Each GCC asset is priority assessed to ensure the budgets available are spent in the areas that most need it; based on strategic location on the network as well as structural condition. Unfortunately, this is not a highway structure in a strategic location and due to the size of the structure and the significant cost required to undertake these repairs it has taken some time for sufficient budget to be available to undertake these works.
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