National Highways will close the M4 at night for a week to carry out more exploratory work on the A432 Badminton Road overbridge which was shut to traffic last month amid fears that it could collapse.
Mark King, who is in charge of roads for South Gloucestershire Council, said today that the council had received just two days’ notice that the bridge, which is next to the A4174 Ring Road near Emersons Green, would close.
Speaking at an online briefing meeting this lunchtime, he said: “It is a National Highways’ asset – it is their bridge on their infrastructure; however, it is on our network. So their priority is health and safety.
“They’re concerned the bridge will collapse if we continue to overload it and they are concerned there is material falling off that bridge on to a live carriageway. So they are very concerned and that is why they took the immediate option to close it.”
He continued: “We have been told that National Highways are going to close the motorway between the M32 and the Bath junction for a week at nights, starting next week while they do some more exploratory investigations to have a better understanding of how it’s failing.”
The minimum length of closure of the overbridge is until December when National Highways will have the outcome of their investigations. In the worst case scenario they will have to rebuild the bridge which would mean two years’ closure, said Mr King.
The council’s priority is to minimise disruption and establish a “new norm” and it has been monitoring traffic and trying to learn where the pinch points and danger points are, he continued.
Temporary four-way traffic lights have been installed at the Henfield Road/Westerleigh Road crossroads. In the three lanes that have been closed off to prevent rat-running – Coalsack Lane, Ruffet Road and Cooks Lane – motorists have been moving the barriers so the council is going to be reinforcing them.
It will also be reinstating temporary traffic lights at the junction of the B4465 Westerleigh Road at Codrington as it did to manage traffic during the closure of the Bromley Heath Viaduct.
Mark King said traffic is fairly light as it is the school holidays but the council is braced for a busy time between September and December.
The recommended signposted diversion is the safest way for motorists to go around the bridge. Local traffic heading northbound is being diverted via the B4465 Westerleigh Road up to the A46 and into Yate via the A432 (and southbound in reverse).
National Highways is also encouraging all traffic to use the A420 and A46 for Yate from the Hicks Gate direction on the A4174 Ring Road, and for motorway users to use the M4 Junction 18 for Yate, rather than the M32 and A4174.