Replacement railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane set to be 4-lane

Railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane, Little Stoke, Bristol.

The railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane, a notorious bottleneck for traffic and the scene of frequent bridge strikes by high vehicles, looks set to be replaced with a significantly wider concrete structure following a decision made by South Gloucestershire Council’s PTSE Major Schemes Sub-Committee in early October.

From November 2014 to February 2015, the council ran a preliminary consultation on plans for a so-called Cribbs/Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME), which would extend the North Fringe to Hengrove Package (NFHP) MetroBus route (now under construction in Bradley Stoke and Stoke Gifford) by linking two termini of the NFHP at The Mall Bus Station and Bristol Parkway Railway Station and via the Cribbs/Patchway New Neighbourhood (CPNN), Filton Enterprise Area, Gipsy Patch Lane and Hatchet Road.

A key improvement that the CPME project would deliver is the replacement of the railway over-bridge at Gipsy Patch Lane. The existing Victorian brick-arch structure is narrow and low, resulting in an unattractive environment for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as generating delays for buses and other traffic. A replacement bridge would improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in particular, as well as for MetroBus services and other road users.

In September 2013, the same SGC committee approved the procurement of Network Rail to undertake ‘Governance for Railway Investment Projects’ (GRIP) Stage 1 to 3 studies into improvements at the Gipsy Patch Lane railway over-bridge (and also that at Brierley Furlong, which is part of a separate project). GRIP stages 1 and 2 looked at whether it would be feasible to build the bridge. The overall conclusion of GRIP 1 and 2 was that it is technically feasible to replace the existing bridge with a new wider bridge.

During 2015, Network Rail has been working on GRIP 3. This is the stage that deals with selecting the preferred design and size of the bridge and a report presented to the sub-committee outlined three options that officers considered could be taken forward:

  • Option 1: Single carriageway in each direction, with 3.5m shared use paths on both sides
  • Option 2: Single carriageway in each direction, 3.5m shared use paths on both sides, plus bus lane in one direction
  • Option 5: Single carriageway in each direction, 3.5m shared use path on north side, 5m shared use path on south side, plus bus lane in both directions

These options all relate to a bridge design that is square to the highway and skewed to the railway track; a further three options involving a more expensive ‘square to track’ design having been discounted.

All options improve conditions for general traffic; increasing the existing 5m-wide carriageway (which is too narrow for two vehicles to pass safely under the bridge), to one 7.3m-wide general traffic lane in each direction .

Sub-committee members were informed that all bridge structures can be built within land owned by South Gloucestershire Council and Network Rail, however, associated highway works will require third party land. The amount of third party land increases with the width of the bridge; the risks associated with securing this land increase with the width of the bridge.

The secured budget for the CPME scheme is £35m. The preliminary costs indicate that bridge Options 1 and 2 are affordable within this budget, whereas additional funding would need to be secured for Option 5 (circa £5m).

After considering the report, members of the sub-committee agreed to approve the selection of bridge replacement Option 5 (one general traffic lane AND one bus lane in each direction) and approve the procurement of Network Rail to support development of the bridge replacement project up to GRIP stage 5 (detailed design).

Full public consultation on the preliminary designs for the overall CPME scheme will take place over a six week period during November and December.

A series of staffed public exhibitions will be held, giving an opportunity for local residents or any other interested parties to view the consultation material and to ask the project team questions.

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This article originally appeared in the November 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

POSTSCRIPT: A meeting of Stoke Gifford Parish Council on 10th November was informed that the full public consultation on the proposed CPME scheme is likely to begin on 23rd November.

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  1. From a recent council report on the CPME scheme:

    “The bridge replacement requires a 100 hour rail possession. This length rail possession is only available twice a year; during Easter or Christmas. The current programme targets a 100 hour rail possession during Easter 2019 for the bridge replacement works.”

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