Tintern’s Grade II Listed Wireworks bridge, which crosses from Monmouthshire into Gloucestershire, was closed to vehicles in August 2021 following the results of a structural assessment undertaken earlier in the year. Pedestrians and cyclist have still been able to use the bridge. However, with the bridge deteriorating, major repairs need to be made that will strengthen the bridge and secure its long-term future, rather than a temporary repair which would not be cost effective or have any lasting effect.
The bridge that spans the River Wye at Tintern, is jointly owned by Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and Monmouthshire County Council (MCC). Plans to repair the bridge are underway, led by Gloucestershire County Council supported by Monmouthshire County Council.
The planned works will include the removal of the existing timber deck and replacement with a deck to meet the required capacity. In addition, the structure will need to be strengthened and this will include the installation of new box beams to replace the existing corroding steel infrastructure. Grit blasting and will take place, as well as repointing of the masonry abutments/piers.
Some of these activities will unfortunately mean that the bridge will have to be closed to all pedestrians and bicycles – for example, the timber deck will have to be fully removed for a significant period of the construction phase. The current plan is to start work in spring 2022. This is not a decision that was made lightly due to the appreciation of the inconvenience this will cause. However, undertaking the work over winter would present additional risks in relation to flooding, high water levels, a safe working environment, poor weather and shorter hours of daylight, all of which risk extending the duration of the works.
The next phase of the project will be to tender the works out and to consider the mitigation measures possible to reduce the impact. Both councils would welcome suggestions or insights on any additional measures from local businesses, residents and other users of the bridge. Planning has already begun, which will include advanced warning of the Public Right of Way closure, with maps posted at all routes leading to the bridge, and local car parks, advising of alternative walking routes. Planned phasing of construction activities will aim to minimise disruption, an example of this is the aim to programme the grit blasting to start after school spring half term holidays and complete prior to school summer holidays.
Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Cllr Jane Pratt said: “We support Gloucestershire Council’s difficult decision to bring forward the repair works to the Wireworks Bridge. While we recognise the inconvenience this will bring, we wish to see the bridge safe, restored to its former glory and re-opened as quickly as possible.”
Ward Member for Tintern, Councillor Ann Webb said: “I understand the frustration of residents and business, but I accept the engineer’s opinion and that this work on the bridge is urgent and needs to be done as soon as all the permissions are in place.”
All residents and businesses, including hotels and other holiday accommodation, will soon receive a letter with details of the closure and alternative routes. Gloucestershire County Council plans to undertake consultation and public events in early 2022 to share the proposals for the planned works.
Updates will be posted on the following website page: