Be ready for severe disruption in Grantham as bridge repair work to begin
Traffic chaos is expected to begin next week, as a main road into Grantham town centre is closed while bridge repair works are carried out.
As reported earlier this month, Network Rail will carry out strengthening works on the railway bridge in Barrowby Road from Tuesday – with the road to stay closed to motorists for three months.
Then, after Christmas, work will get under way on the bridge in Springfield Road, with that key route into town also closed for three months.
The project comes in at a cost of £2.7 million.
The news was a hit for town businesses, retailers in particular, many of which are still struggling through the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Network Rail boss has this week apologised for the “impact this essential work will have on the community of Grantham”.
Paul Rutter, route director for the East Coast route, added: “We’ve worked hard to phase the work to keep one of the roads open at all times, except over Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 November, and to make sure that both roads are open around Christmas.”
Work – which aims to to make sure the railway and the roads remain safe and reliable for years to come – will be carried out at Barrowby Road from Tuesday until early December, then at Springfield Road from January until March 2021.
Both roads will be closed for one weekend in November to allow re-waterproofing and drainage improvement work, which involves working on the top of both bridges, to be carried out safely.
This part of the project will also impact on train services, as the line will be closed to allow the work to take place safely, and passengers are advised to check their journeys in advance via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator.
Further details of the strengthening work to be carried out was released to the Journal this week, which showed, perhaps surprisingly, that regular bridge strikes are not the main reason for repairs.
It will involve steelwork and brickwork repairs, re-waterproofing, re-painting sections of them and improvements to drainage.
A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “Whilst bridge strikes are not the main reason for the work, they cause damage to bridges and the railway, and we urge drivers to know the height of their vehicle, as they are entirely avoidable. Bridge strikes can cause delays to train services, and cost taxpayers millions of pounds every year.”
Access will remain available for pedestrians and cyclists, although cyclists will be asked to dismount.
Although accepting that the work is likely to cause significant upheaval for the people and businesses of Grantham, Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said the work is vital to secure safety.
He added: “When utility companies and other organisations approach us to do work on the roads, our programming team work with them to find the least disruptive way to do it.
“In this case, we asked Network Rail to only close one road at a time, and to pause work and have both roads open during the busy Christmas period.
“There’s no doubt Network Rail’s works will cause disruption in Grantham, but it’s obviously maintenance that needs doing on these bridges to secure the safety of the train line and the roads below.”
The chairman of Grantham Business Club Malcolm Swinburn described the six-month road closure as “disaster and frustration”.
He added: “We shall see just how much adverse effect both closures will have on our town centre businesses as it could well deter people from fighting their way into town stuck in traffic jams. Just as we are coming to terms with the Covid-19 lockdown this will not help our local residents at all. Bad timing.”