Important restoration works to the majestic towers which support the Clifton Suspension Bridge are set to continue this year. Works on the Clifton tower were completed in 2015, and will begin next week on the Leigh Woods tower. The masonry will be cleaned and repointed, and repairs carried out to the roof structure, the drainage and the access ladders.
The same contractor will also begin re-painting the girders below the bridge deck, aiming to complete 50% of them this year.
David Anderson, the Bridge Master, said: “a detailed inspection was carried out several years ago, which revealed that the walls of the towers – and the red sandstone abutments which support them – were in need of repair work. The repairs to the abutments were done between 2010 and 2012, and it has now become a high priority to tackle the towers.
“The most efficient way to go about these works is to erect scaffolding around the towers. This in itself is a major operation, but provides safe conditions for stone masons to carry out their work, which has to be of the highest quality on this Grade 1 listed structure. It also enables protective sheeting to be installed, to prevent debris and dust causing any danger to people using the bridge or contamination of the Avon Gorge below - a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
“The paint system to the girders under the bridge deck has now deteriorated to the point where it has become a high priority to address it. The work is complicated by the need to lift the footway clear of the girders to enable the painting, which means that one footway will have to be closed to pedestrians for several months this year.
“It is unfortunate that the bridge will not be looking its best again this summer due to the scaffolding obscuring one of the towers, however the works must be done during the summer months because warm temperatures are needed for the repointing and painting works” said Mr Anderson.
The works begin on 29 February, generally without any disruption to traffic flow. However during the scaffolding works the bridge will be closed to vehicles and cyclists for 3 days, from 9.30am to 4.00pm each day. This will take place from Monday 14 to Wednesday 16 March. A diversion route will be signed, using Bridge Valley Road, Brunel Way and A369 Rownham Hill.
The Bridge Master said “During these bridge closures pedestrians will still be able to use the bridge. However cycling will be prohibited as maintenance work will be taking place on the bridge. Cyclists may dismount and walk across the bridge, however as only one narrow footway will be open they are requested to avoid using the bridge if possible.
“Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust wishes to apologise for the inconvenience which these closures will cause people. We hope that by re-opening the road overnight and during the morning and evening peak periods we will minimise inconvenience.”