THE final stage of major work to replace the Boundary Road railway bridge in Newbury will get under way in the coming weeks.
A 12-month closure of Boundary Road – one of Newbury's vital through routes – started in January to allow Network Rail to carry out essential works to heighten the bridge ahead of electrification of the line.
The old bridge has now been removed and the installation of the bridge deck sections will commence this weekend, with further work scheduled for the following two weekends (September 10-11 and September 17-18) to complete it.
Network Rail says that work is currently going according to schedule and that it expects to have the bridge re-opened in January 2017 as planned.
The works have not only had an impact on motorists using the town’s road network, they have also generated some complaints from nearby residents.
Several of them contacted the Newbury Weekly News to say that noisy overnight works had kept them awake and made the walls of their homes shake.
This week, a spokesman for Network Rail, James Crook, said: “We would like to thank residents for their patience as we continue to carry out this essential upgrade which will pave the way for faster, greener electric trains with more seats to be operating through Newbury by December 2018.”
Network Rail has admitted the £2.5m project is one of the most complex of all its bridge replacements, owing to the age of the structure and the number of utilities connected to it.
Once the bridge has re-opened, it will still be one-way because the land north of the bridge is not wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic.
The necessary widening works will be completed as part of the adjacent Sterling Cables redevelopment and paid for by the developer and the council.
Throughout the closure, a temporary footbridge has been in place for pedestrians and cyclists to use.
And recently, Network Rail gave Newbury schoolchildren the chance to design the artwork for the bridge.
Pupils from St Nicolas Junior School have visited the site to see how their work was brightening it up.
When the new bridge is put into operation early next year, the pupils’ artwork will be moved and put on display at Newbury and Newbury Racecourse stations.