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MP keeps pressure on bridge firm over closure
Published 14/04/14

JOHN HOWELL has met the owners of Whitchurch Bridge to discuss the delays in re-opening it.

The Henley MP has asked the Whitchurch Bridge Company what measures it is taking to ensure the date is not put back again beyond September.

He reminded the company of its duty to inform residents about how the restoration work being carried out by contractor Balfour Beatty was progressing.

Mr Howell called the meeting on Friday “productive”.

He said: “It is essential that the company recognises the public interest in the bridge.

“I understand that the project may well face risks but the key thing is to communicate those risks and progress as they occur.

“Obviously the company is seeking to mitigate those risks but people simply wish to know how things are going and to hold them to account for finishing when they say they will.”

The bridge, which is 112 years old, shut in October so it could be strengthened to cope with traffic volumes.

It was meant to re-open this month but this was pushed back to July at the start of the year following the January floods. It was later announced that the bridge would not re-open until September because of the second round of floods in February.

The bridge company began delivering a monthly newsletter to homes in Whitchurch last month.

It says nine new piles are to be installed in the coming weeks. Three are for the bridge’s southern abutment and the other six, which are 0.9m wide, will be driven 30m into the river bed.

The company says this is the riskiest part of the process and hopes to announce a firm re-opening date when it has been completed.

The bridge is now open to river traffic and the Environment Agency says a channel at least 7m wide will be open most of the time.

There will be a one-way system when the channel is narrow and boats travelling downstream will have priority over boats heading upstream.

There will be temporary closures, some overnight and others lasting all day.

The agency says these will happen only when boat traffic is at its lightest and will not be scheduled on weekends or bank holidays.

Published 14/04/14

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