Monday, 3 March 2014

Ovingham Bridge

Last week I attended a meeting in Ovingham village hall about the closure and refurbishment of the bridge, which will be closed from May and reopen in May 2015. Local councillors were there including Eileen Burt from the Prudhoe side and Paul Kelly who represents Ovingham. They were joined by Gemma Reay a senior bridges engineer from Northumberland County Council.

Last weekend, after campaigning in Prudhoe I crossed the bridge. It was a Saturday and I parked up to see how much traffic was using the route. I can confirm that for most of the time I was there there was traffic waiting to cross at one end or another, and the cars do make a bit of a racket as they rattle from one end to the other. We have been assured that the new surface will be much quieter.

Before the meeting I was listening to residents who all agreed that the work is necessary. I heard from some that were concerned that the bridge would be made too wide, resulting in an increase in larger traffic. This is not the case; the stone pillars at either end of the bridge will stay so width restrictions will remain in place, however the current high metal barriers will be replace by conventional angled kerbs. No longer will we have to worry about dings to alloy wheels or loss of wheel trims.

During the meeting itself many concerns were raised, the first of which was the loss of trees from the areas around the bridge. This is a valid concern as many trees have already been cut down. We were told that replanting will take place on all woodland areas, apart from those which are underneath or very close to the bridge. Other environmental concerns were discussed, including the removal of the current paint on the bridge, which is lead based and we were reassured that none of it will be allowed to fall into the Tyne.

Parking was also raised. This is an problem even when the bridge is closed. All contractors' vehicles will be parked in a compound and not in the village. Children from the Prudhoe side who attend school in Ovingham will be dropped off and supervised as they walk across the pedestrian bridge to school.

I asked about penalty clauses in contracts for finishing late. These are in place for subcontractors but as Northumberland County Council are using their own workforce to do much of the work there are no penalty clauses for this aspect. I see this is a positive as the council can address any delays due to weather or other circumstances.

I sought assurance that the work would be finished on time: While residents understand the need for the closure, the inconvenience to local people should not be brushed aside or underestimated: Many will have increased journey time which for some will mean a whole year of getting in later from work, and a whole year of increased fuel costs.

I was assured that the build would be completed on time, and that the closure would be for a maximum of 12 months. It is a shame that the Goose Fair will have to be cancelled, it's a shame many people will be inconvenienced, but the refurbished bridge will be an improvement on the existing one and will last for many years to come.


Anonymous said...

Can you tell me are you aware if NCC pay for damage caused to vehicles using that bridge?????

Unknown said...

Doubtful as there are plenty of width warnings!!!

The news to keep people updated as to the closure dates is pitiful in the extreme given the disruption that this will cause. All I can find is Ovingham Parish Council blog mentioning May 28th, but nothing from NCC?

Unknown said...

If there is a fault with the bridge that has been reported but then remains unrepaired, then there is case for compensation.

Unknown said...

I will try to get an update from NCC and then post it on here

Anonymous said...

Signposts by bridge have been updated to say June, but no date