The main construction phase of a new permanent access over the River Avon from the A431 to Saltford Water Recycling Centre was due to get under way this week.
Construction traffic will be controlled by traffic lights for the project which is expected to take nine months.
Wessex Water has been doing environmental preparations and enabling work on site since a 100ft stretch of hedgerow was removed from the A431 on the outskirts of Swineford a year ago to make way for the new link road and bridge. A shorter stretch of hedgerow was taken out on the other side of the road to make way for access to a work compound.
Saltford Water Recycling Centre at Mead Lane takes sewage from the Bath and Saltford areas. Wessex Water says it needs to improve the approach to the site, which also houses the regional scientific centre, to accommodate projected growth. The existing access along Mead Lane can flood when the river level is high, while a low bridge also affects access for some vehicles.
Alternative routes were explored, including a new 1.6 km road to connect to the A4, but Wessex Water said this would have a significant impact on the Avon Valley landscape, result in much greater loss of Green Belt land and have a high impact on local ecology.
The new vehicular access and bridge will include a footpath for pedestrians and a cycle path for Wessex staff. The approaches will be on embankments to ensure the access road remains flood-free. Wessex Water says there will be biodiversity gain and environmental improvement at the site which is within the Green Belt and the Cotswolds National Landscape, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Wessex Water says that there will be an increase in traffic on both sides of the river during the construction work. As part of the work a speed reduction to 30mph has been secured on the A431. The lights will be in will be in use Monday to Friday from 7am to 5.30pm. Wessex Water says they will generally be green but will be controlled for road crossings.
The plans for the new link road bridge were approved by B&NES Council at the end of 2021. The access route in Saltford will remain open but not to heavy traffic.
Residents have voiced concern about a predicted tenfold increase in HGVs through Swineford and Bitton as a result but Wessex Water has said that overall the extra vehicle numbers per day will be “minimal”.
To address concerns over the A431 currently flooding in extreme weather conditions, as it did in January, flood modelling has been carried out and Wessex says the plans will not increase flood risk.