Bridge reopening could be further delayed as drainage pumps deemed inadequate

Photo showing pedestrian route under the bridge.
Pedestrian route under the new railway bridge in March 2021.

The projected date for reopening the road under the new railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane looks likely to be further delayed after engineers decided a larger pumping station will be required to prevent flooding.

The road under the bridge has been fully closed since March 2020, when it was anticipated that it would reopen within eight months. However, the coronavirus crisis forced the installation of the new preconstructed concrete bridge to be postponed until October 2020, leading to the projected road reopening date being pushed back to July 2021.

Network Rail and its contractor Alun Griffiths Ltd are currently carrying out works to lower the road below the new railway bridge, as well as installing an improved drainage system, including a new pumping station. The pumping station is needed to ensure that the lowered highway under the bridge does not flood.

The highway lowering is necessary to meet national design standards that must be complied with whenever a new bridge is built and will permit double decker buses to pass under the bridge.

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Explaining the issues surrounding the pumping station capacity, a council spokesperson said:

“Resolving the historic issues with flooding on Gipsy Patch Lane is one of the benefits of the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME). The improved drainage system will make the road more flood resilient in the future and make the site more able to cope with extreme weather causing less disruption to all users.”

“Following ongoing survey and investigations, a larger pumping station and drainage system than previously envisaged is now required to help future-proof this key stretch of road from flooding.”

“We are working closely with Network Rail and its contractor to understand the implications of these changes to the new drainage system and pumping station and how they may impact on the project’s programme and the partial reopening of Gipsy Patch Lane in the summer.”

“We will update the community when we have more information. These changes are not expected to cause any delay to the overall completion of the CPME project.”

Readers will recall that last October’s bridge move didn’t exactly run to plan, with the new bridge getting stuck tens of metres short of its intended position. It was eventually freed by a fleet of heavy haulage units. The railway had to remain closed for two weeks longer than originally planned, incurring penalty charges thought to run into millions of pounds.

In response to an enquiry from the Journal, council spokesperson said:

“A ‘lessons learnt’ review has been completed by Network Rail with recommendations still being worked through. The primary cause of the incident was identified as the failure of the temporary roadway [over which the new bridge was transported].”

The spokesperson added:

“The full and final cost is still being finalised. The extra cost will fall to Network Rail to manage and resolve as the manager of these works. It is the council’s view that the authority will not be liable for the additional costs and penalties arising from the delay experienced during the bridge installation.”

A route under the new bridge for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists was reopened on 10th December 2020. This initially ran close to the north wall of the bridge but was realigned into the centre in late January (see photo above).


Tree felling

Elsewhere on Gipsy Patch Lane, the controversial felling of 20 mature trees on the south side of the road, necessary to create space for a new bus lane, was carried out in the week commencing 25th January. In mitigation, the CPME project has already provided funding for 53 trees of various species to be planted along Winterbourne Road and Orpheus Avenue and there are proposals to eventually plant 24 new trees along Gipsy Patch Lane.

Photo of a felled tree.
One of 20 semi-mature trees felled.

A further restriction on traffic flow along Gipsy Patch Lane came into force on Monday 8th March with the closure of a section of the westbound carriageway just west of the Little Stoke Lane junction.

A signed diversion route for westbound traffic is available via Little Stoke Lane, Kingsway, and Gifford Crescent (see map below).

Map showing diversion routes.
Map showing diversion routes during work to upgrade bus stops on Gipsy Patch Lane to MetroBus specification.

Additionally, the eastbound carriageway on Gipsy Patch Lane at the same location has been reduced to a single lane.

The carriageway and lane closures, which are expected to last for approximately eight weeks, are needed as part of work to upgrade two existing bus stops to MetroBus specification.

Two further bus stops which serve Pegasus Park and Rolls-Royce will be upgraded later in the CPME construction programme as part of works to the west of the railway bridge.

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Construction programme

An updated construction programme was published in February 2021. One notable change is that the ‘road works at bridge’ element now extends into the third quarter of 2021 (previously second quarter).

Gannt chart showing the construction programme.
CPME construction programme (amended February 2021). Extract showing Gipsy Patch Lane only.

Work planned for March and April

Statement provided by South Gloucestershire Council:

In the coming months Network Rail and its contractor plan to complete the in-situ concrete works. This comprises both the infill panels on the north and south abutments and the retaining walls to the corners. There is then a series of brick facades to install in the interface between the in-situ concrete sections and the main bridge structure. They also need to clad the northwest wing wall piles in brick. Following on from this they will prepare the permanent southern footpath area, installing communication ducting before transferring pedestrians from the centre of the bridge over to the south side. This will enable the next phase of construction which involves installing the drainage system, followed by utility diversions. Network Rail and its contractor will continue to ensure there is access for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists with the route moving to enable the different phases of construction.

Aerial photo of railway bridge.
Aerial view of Gipsy Patch Lane railway bridge in December 2020.

More information and related links:

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 12 & 13). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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  1. Omg 😱 u have got to be kidding me. So sick of this ugly bridge and all this destruction and mess just for the rubbish bus that nobody wants. Please can anyone inform me when we will be able to drive under the bridge now? I think it was July before, has this been delayed too?

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