The next phase of the Gipsy Patch Lane bridge replacement work as part of the Cribbs Patchway metrobus extension (CPME) has had to be rescheduled.
With over 150 workers required on site working in close proximity to each other, unfortunately it would be impossible to safely follow the current guidance on social distancing. Protecting the safety of workers and helping prevent the spread of coronavirus has to take priority.
The CPME is a £57 million investment to reduce congestion and improve journey times for all road users by providing a new quick, reliable public transport system and a realistic alternative to traveling by car.
Network Rail is working on behalf of South Gloucestershire Council to deliver a new railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane as part of the CPME. Once complete, the new, wider bridge will provide room for new bus lanes in each direction and shared use cycle and pedestrian pathways, as well as general traffic lanes.
With the coronavirus situation evolving at a rapid pace, Network Rail has been regularly reviewing its contingency plans to mitigate as much risk as possible. However, following further announcements by the government and guidance from Public Health England the planned bridge move will be rescheduled.
This work has been deferred along with a number of other schemes across the wider rail network because of coronavirus.
Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Steve Reade said: “The new railway bridge is a significant engineering project which requires extensive works, including the demolition of the existing railway bridge and lowering the road to conform to national design standards for headroom under bridges.
“The safety of workers has to be paramount at this difficult time and following current government instructions and advice from Public Health England unfortunately it is not possible to carry out the bridge move.
“The CPME is an important part of our ambitions to keep South Gloucestershire moving now and in years to come. The council remains committed to this flagship scheme and we are working closely together to review the project and determine when this important phase can go ahead. However, the project team will be guided by any future government advice or directives concerning the coronavirus pandemic.
“We would like to thank the local community for their continued patience and understanding at this time. We are obviously very disappointed that the work has had to be postponed.”
The installation of the new bridge is a significant piece of engineering work that requires approximately 150 skilled workers to be on site at one time, the majority of whom would be working in a constrained area. This would make the government guidelines concerning working on construction sites extremely difficult to comply with, particularly with regard to social distancing and maintaining two metres between workers. The safety of workers and preventing the spread of coronavirus is of utmost importance at this time.
The bridge move was scheduled to take place between 11 April and 20 April. Network Rail is now working with its stakeholders to try to identify an opportunity later in the year when it can take place. However, the project team will be guided by any future government advice or directives. We will continue to keep the community updated.
The new bridge has been successfully constructed in the Horizon 38 compound and all four pile caps (foundations for the new bridge) have also been completed. This means these elements are ready for the bridge move when we are able to continue.
The council remains committed to this important transport project which will provide a direct route between Bristol Parkway railway station, Stoke Gifford, the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood, The Mall shopping centre and will link with the wider metrobus network.
At this time, Network Rail, and its contractors Alun Griffiths, will remain on site at Gipsy Patch Lane completing work that they are able to do whilst complying with government guidelines. This includes preparatory and highways work for when the bridge is moved into position.
We understand there is a great local interest in the CPME project but everyone should be practising social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. People must follow government instructions to stay at home, avoid gatherings of more than two people and stay at least two metres away from other people. Therefore, we ask that you do not visit the construction site, including the railway bridge area, on Gipsy Patch Lane for any reason.
Gipsy Patch Lane and Station Road junction
Gipsy Patch Lane and the Station Road junction will remain closed so Network Rail and Alun Griffiths can continue their preparatory and highways work.
Network Rail will continue to operate a shuttle bus for pedestrians needing to make essential journeys either side of the bridge. Further details on this service are available via the project website www.southglos.gov.uk/cpmetrobus
Train operating companies will be running reduced services until further notice in line with national advice against all non-essential travel.
Despite the postponement of the bridge move, the planned temporary closure of the railway between Bristol Parkway and Newport will still be going ahead from Saturday 11 April to Sunday 19 April inclusive. This is so that other planned engineering work on the railway that can be carried out within government guidelines goes ahead. During this period, train services between Bristol and South Wales will be amended and buses will replace trains between Bristol Parkway and Newport.
If a journey is absolutely necessary, we strongly advise you to check before you travel by visiting GWR.com/Check or nationalrail.co.uk. Please note online journey planners may be amended at short notice.
We will continue to keep the community up to date via social media and our website. Any updates will be posted on social media via www.facebook.com/sgloscpme and the project webpage at www.southglos.gov.uk/cpmetrobus. We would also encourage people to sign up to our project newsletter, which can be done by visiting our webpage.
Members of the public with queries concerning the rail line closure should call the Network Rail 24-hour helpline on 03457 11 41 41.