Brunel Way traffic chaos continues as council slammed for ‘appalling timing’ of third bridge repairs

Bristol City Council has been slammed for its ‘appalling timing’ for starting roadworks on the key bridge across the River Avon and Cumberland Basin in Bristol while two other bridges and two other key roads are closed.

And the disruptive roadworks on the Avon Bridge from Ashton Gate to Hotwells are also going to be a headache for bosses at Ashton Gate Stadium – where five matches are due to take place in the first 14 days of October, while the roadworks are in place.

The dual carriage of Brunel Way was reduced to one lane either way on the Avon Bridge section of the A3029 on Tuesday morning and already has sparked long queues, congestion and gridlock across Bristol on Tuesday evening this week, and on Wednesday morning.

Read more: Brunel Way roadworks congestion made worse by lights stuck on red

On Wednesday evening, the delays were compounded by the failure of the Plimsoll Swing Bridge warning system, which meant northbound traffic heading towards the bridge from Ashton Gate were faced with a permanently red traffic light for more than two hours during Wednesday’s evening rush hour.

Now, Cllr Richard Eddy, who represents Bishopsworth in South Bristol for the Conservatives, has called out the council for starting this work now, when so many other key routes from South Bristol to the rest of the city are closed.

Redcliffe Bridge is permanently closed to both motorists, pedestrians and cyclists as repair work there is delayed – and won’t now reopen until November. The pedestrian and cycleway of Gaol Ferry Bridge, which connects Coronation Road in Southville with Wapping Wharf and the city centre, is closed for the rest of the year while it is being repaired. The main northbound A38 at Malago Road in Bedminster has been closed all year and will remain closed for almost two years more to allow the council to install a controversial heat pump network to the Bedminster Green regeneration project, and Cumberland Road on the north bank of the River Avon is still closed eastbound.

Cllr Eddy said while he appreciated the work needed to be done, now was ‘appalling timing’, given all the other routes and bridges closed.

“Obviously, it is important for the Local Authority and its contractors to undertake necessary structural repairs and this inevitably involves some disruption to the general public,” he said.

“However, one can’t get away from the simple physical fact that Bristol is a city divided by water with a limited number of crossing-points. Consequently, careful consideration has got to be given to the timing and phasing of road-works and the impact of closures elsewhere on the road system.

Roadworks on Brunel Way over the Avon Bridge
Roadworks on Brunel Way over the Avon Bridge

“With road-closures now at Brunel Way, motorists can’t travel north towards the City Centre using Dean Lane or Dalby Avenue, Bedminster. Nor can they easily travel west along western Cumberland Road or use Redcliffe Bridge, currently similarly undergoing repairs. Travel west-to-east across the City Centre is practically impossible for the private motorist.

“Bristol is a living, breathing city which needs to allow people to travel for work and play. If this goes on without any meaningful consideration for real people, we will become just a historical museum-piece!” he added.

The council has maintained that the work on Avon Bridge has to be done. Last year a major survey was undertaken and the 60-year-old concrete bridge was found to be in serious need of repair.

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office told Bristol Live Cllr Eddy would be the first to complain if the bridge collapsed, asking ‘does he want to wait until it falls down?’, while Cllr Don Alexander, the cabinet member for transport, said people needed to bear with the disruption.

“Refurbishing Avon Bridge is essential to protect the structure from further water damage and keep the structure operational as it reaches the end of its lifecycle,” he said. “Brunel Way is a major route, so we’ve worked hard on a plan to keep the bridge open as much as possible throughout the works. However, they are likely to delay people as they travel through the area, so we are suggesting finding alternative routes and hope that everyone bears with us while we repair this important bridge,” he added.

The reduction to one lane in both directions of Brunel Way as it goes over the Avon Bridge will remain in place until the third week of October – and that will be a major headache for fans heading to Ashton Gate.

Ashton Gate Stadium managing director Mark Kelly tweeted his concerns about the Brunel Way roadworks

Bristol City have four home games in the first two weeks of October, while Bristol Bears have one home game in the middle weekend of that fortnight.

Ashton Gate Stadium’s managing director Mark Kelly voiced his concerns on Twitter after the second evening of congestion, pointing out that the stadium puts on buses for its major events, but is powerless when the main road past the venue is disrupted, and calling for work to be done overnight so that the main road is clear during the day and evening when it’s busiest.

Read more – all the South Bristol bridge and road issues

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