Take it to the bridge

I have written before about the importance of bridges to Bristol’s history, and although the Suspension Bridge justifiably gets the focus of postcards and other tourist memorabilia, many of us rely on the other, less celebrated bridges to move around Bristol.

Sadly, like much of the physical infrastructure in the city they have suffered from decades of neglect. We’re now attempting to put that right.

We are in the process of seeking funding as part of our City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) bid to the Department for Transport via WECA for a £15 million programme to refurbish and repair six key bridges during the next five years.

Photograph of Gaol Ferry Bridge, across the New Cut in Southville
Gaol Ferry Bridge, across the New Cut

Those six bridges are:

  • Gaol Ferry Bridge
  • Langton Street Bridge
  • Sparke Evans Park Bridge
  • Vauxhall Bridge
  • Bedminster Bridge
  • Bath Bridge

We know that this work will cause inconvenience for people as they are used by thousands every day, but they are all in need of repair. We will do everything we can to minimise the impact to people’s day-to-day lives, but there is no alternative for these busy and well-used routes. 

First will be the Gaol Ferry Bridge over the New Cut, south of Wapping Wharf and connecting to Bedminster and Southville. It is a lightweight lattice girder suspension footbridge. Built in 1935 and having only had small patches and mends in the 87 years since then, we are now gearing up for a substantial refurbishment: undertaking a full replacement of decking, some structural repairs and full repainting of the structure. Unfortunately, this means a full closure for between six to nine months while parts of the structure are replaced.

This project is not reliant on the CRSTS bid to national government, because we had already recognised that this work needed to happen as part of an inspection of all the bridges in 2020 and part of £9.6 million we allocated to highways maintenance funding last year.

The closure of the Gaol Ferry Bridge will not be until the spring, but we are now beginning work to survey people as they use the bridge to inform our signage strategy so we can direct people to other crossings as early in their journeys as possible.

Further information about the wider programme of repairs and their planned schedule over the next five years will be shared as soon as possible.

We are being proactive in getting the funding necessary to secure our city’s bridges, to ensure they will connect Bristol for generations to come.