Published: 11:43, 06 February 2020
| Updated: 11:44, 06 February 2020
Traffic mayhem is expected to be avoided when essential maintenance work on Sandwich Toll Bridge starts in less than two weeks.
Kent County Council (KCC) has confirmed the works to repair the swing bridge will last seven weeks and are expected to begin on February 17.
Answering earlier fears that the works would clash with Southern Water's repairs to a pipe under the A256, a spokesman for the authority said: "The works and the closure of the bridge will not happen until the A256 is reopened."
He added: "The work by Southern Water is continuing on the A256 and KCC is continuing to keep the pressure on for them to get their work done and the road open as soon as possible."
According to KCC the bridge deck will be removed and transported to a yard for the mechanical and electrical components to be replaced.
The bridge deck will also be cleaned and repainted.
Upgrades to the swing bridge operation on site will also be incorporated with the refurbishment works together with repairs to the road.
The road will be closed at the bridge with vehicles routed around a diversion.
Pedestrians will have a dedicated shuttle bus to transport them around to the other end of the bridge, operating daily from 6am until midnight.
River navigation will be maintained without restrictions once the bridge deck is removed but the bridge will be unable to swing open during the periods the bridge is being prepared for the initial lift and during final commissioning after the refurbished deck is lifted back on.
KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said: “Over the years the mechanical and electrical components that allow the bridge to operate have deteriorated and they have now reached the end of their serviceable life and need to be replaced.
“The refurbishment works will ensure that the bridge remains safe and operational for both road and river users for years to come.
“I appreciate that, until the works are completed, that residents and businesses nearby will experience some disruption.
“Unfortunately, this will be the case whenever the work is undertaken but Kent Highways will endeavour to ensure that this is kept it to a minimum.
“I also realise that work by Southern Water is continuing on the A256. These works and the closure of the bridge are not planned to run concurrently and we are keeping the pressure on for them to get their work done and the road open as soon as possible.”
Southern Water's area manager Jean-Paul Collet said: “Southern Water’s repair to a burst pipe under the A256 is now complete. Although we cannot reintroduce pressurised flow to test the repair due to the other burst on the same stretch of pipe under the River Stour near The Bulwark.
"We know that what people really want to know is when the A256 will be reopening – and we are delighted that the final survey looking at the integrity of the road is being completed by Southern Water this week. From these surveys the council can decide when the closure can be removed.
"In the meantime work to repair the burst under the river continues. We are making good progress with plans to drill under the river bed and lay completely new pipe. Due to the location within a Scheduled Monument we cannot start major digging until we have all the permissions we need. We are working closely with Historic England to get started as soon as possible. Preliminary work is underway.
"We apologise again to residents for the continued requirement for tankers and wish to assure them that we are doing working hard to end the need. Right now they are unfortunately the only way to maintain wastewater services and protect the environment. In the meantime we’ll continue to use the lowest number we can and ensure they stick to the enforced 20mph speed limit.
"We are also exploring a temporary solution which may mean we can stop the tankers even sooner; we will keep everyone updated on this.”
More by this authorBeth Robson