Orwell Bridge work means road closure

ENGINEERS are preparing to lower the Orwell Bridge back on to its new bearings on Monday.It will take five hours to drop the bridge down just ten millimetres and will see the Stowmarket-bound carriageway closed from 8pm on Monday to 6am on Tuesday.

ENGINEERS are preparing to lower the Orwell Bridge back on to its new bearings on Monday.

It will take five hours to drop the bridge down just ten millimetres and will see the Stowmarket-bound carriageway closed from 8pm on Monday to 6am on Tuesday.

It is almost the last phase in a four-month project to make sure the mile-long structure is up to the job and can cope with the ever-increasing amount of traffic.

The bearings allow the 25-year-old bridge to expand or contract in response to high or low temperatures.

They suffer great wear and tear and some have to be replaced every few years.

Similar work was last carried out in 2000 and cost £1.2 million.

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The work has been taking place since June. On Monday the westbound carriageway will be closed between the A12 Seven Hills interchange and the Wherstead junction, between 8pm and 6am, with diversions in place.

Contractors will work through the night by floodlight to carry out the project at the quietest time on the roads, ensuring the work does not cause traffic chaos. The work will go ahead as long as there are not high winds.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said the bridge was jacked up during the last all-night closure and the bearings replaced.

He said: “Now the bridge is to be taken back down again ten millimetres on to the new bearings, which each weigh three tons, on top of the piers.

“It will take five hours because the bridge has to be lowered very slowly in order to redistribute the stress across the structure.”

The bearings have been replaced on three piers.

Engineers have been working underneath the bridge, not visible from the carriageway. The work is due to be completed by the end of November.

The 50mph speed restriction, enforced with average speed safety cameras, is due to be removed early in the month.

During the closure there will be a signed diversion route in place from the A14 Junction 58 via the A1156, A1189 and A1214 through Ipswich.

Has the work affected you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk