Folly Bridge

Update: 10 October 2017

Works are progressing well on the east side of the bridge. We completed the substantial temporary steelwork support under the bridge, which then allowed us to remove the defective existing stonework. We are now in the process of installing the new stonework.

In order to maintain programme, we worked overnight shifts to complete the steelwork installation under the bridge. We apologise for disturbance that this caused some residents closest to the bridge.

What happens next?

Works to resurface the whole length of Folly Bridge up to the Thames Street/St Aldates junction will take place during a series of overnight road closures from Wednesday 11 October to Saturday 21 October 2017.

Works under the bridge will continue during daytime working hours until mid November. This will largely involve dismantling the temporary steelwork supports and undertaking repairs underneath and to the external walls of the bridge.

Traffic Management Changes

If you've been across the bridge you'll be aware that we have made several changes to the traffic management around Folly Bridge to help ease congestion where possible. The Thames Street arm of the junction has been reopened and the temporary traffic signals modified to a 3 way layout. There has still been considerable congestion at peak times on occasions – this has been largely due to congestion on Thames Street, which has limited the traffic that can cross over Folly Bridge without blocking the bridge. We have to keep this clear to allow traffic to go south, in order to avoid gridlock in the Thames Street/Speedwell Street area. We request that drivers remain patient and do not run red lights etc.

Overnight closures

We will be starting a series of overnight road closures on Wednesday night 11 October, though to Saturday 21 October. This will involve an overnight closure of Abingdon Road and the end of Thames Street from approximately 7pm until 6am. The diversion route will be signed as per our previous letter.

During the daytime, the road will be reopened under 3 way signal control, similar to the current arrangement. Traffic management on the carriageway will be removed by 22 October 2017. Vehicular access to properties on Folly Island will not be possible during the majority of these overnight closure periods. If this is likely to cause any issues for you please speak to our Supervisor who will discuss with you.

The 2 loading bays on Thames Street between Butterwick Place and Abingdon Road will be closed off for some of this period, to allow storage of construction plant.

Pedestrian access

One footway will be kept available for pedestrians at all times. The Thames towpath leading east from the bridge and the channel under the bridge will continue to be closed during the works as the towpath wall repair works are being undertaken at the same time as these bridge works.

During the overnight surfacing closures, pedestrian marshals will need to escort pedestrians safely through the works. Please adhere to onsite instructions from site staff during this period to ensure your safety.

Noise disturbance

For overnight works, we will programme the noisiest work to minimise the disturbance to residents, but some disturbance will be inevitable for residents adjacent to the works, and we apologise in advance for any inconvenience this causes.

Drivers are being advised to plan their journeys as work begins on one of the main routes into the city.

From 20 September temporary signals will be in place on Abingdon Road 24 hrs/day to allow work to be done on Folly Bridge.

Folly Bridge is a stone bridge over the River Thames carrying the Abingdon Road south from the centre of Oxford.

The stonework on the arch which carries Abingdon Road over the secondary navigation channel has been damaged as a result of water penetration and frost over the years meaning repairs are now essential.

Why do the work now?

The timing of the work is dictated by the presence of bats which can only be excluded from the structure at specific times of year.

New road surface

When the stonework is complete the carriageway will be re-surfaced up to the junction with Thames Street.

Road remains open

The county council has worked with its contractors to ensure that the road remains open throughout the work during peak times and daytimes, but the traffic management needed for safety means that the road will be down to one lane with traffic lights controlling the flow.

Although work started on repairing the bridge on 4 September this will not have been visible to people driving through. The traffic management will be installed overnight on Tuesday 19 September and be in force on the morning of Wednesday 20 September.

From 20 September temporary signals will be in place 24 hrs/day. One footway will be kept available for pedestrians at all times. The Thames towpath leading east from the bridge and the navigation channel under the bridge will continue to be closed during the works, as towpath wall repair works are being undertaken concurrently with the bridge works.

In order to reduce delays through the temporary traffic lights, an eastbound closure to Thames Street is being introduced at the junction with Abingdon Road. Traffic will be diverted via Speedwell Street and St. Aldates to re-join Abingdon Road. The resurfacing and traffic management installation will require some night time road closures to enable the work to be carried out safely.



Challenging work

Engineers face a number of challenges in doing the work. The bridge is home to Daubenton’s bats – a species that chooses to live near water. All bats in Britain are protected under wildlife conservation regulations.

The bridge itself is also a listed structure which means that the work done has to be done to strict standards using approved stonework and techniques.

In addition there are numerous services such as gas, water, electricity, phone lines crossing the bridge which need to be protected while the work is carried out.

Before the work could start the bats had to be excluded temporarily and an alternative bat roost provided nearby. Bat roosts will then be built back into the repaired stonework within the bridge arch.

Some of the stonework in the arch will be replaced from below, working from pontoons on the river. Other sections of stonework will have to be replaced from above, with the arch barrel being supported temporarily from below.

Plan your journeys

County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment, said: Repairing Folly Bridge is a tough job because the times our engineers can work are so limited due to the bats, and because it is a listed structure adds another layer of complexity.

“Add to that the fact that we will be allowing traffic to continue to use this major route, which can take up to approximately 15,000 vehicles per day, into Oxford and you get some idea of the difficulty.

“Many people have been very keen for the road to be resurfaced here and I hope road users will be pleased by the end result. During the work, from 20 September, there will be delays and so our advice is to plan your journey if Folly Bridge is on your route.”

Road reopened in time for Westgate opening

The traffic management will be removed from the road by 20 October in time for the Westgate Centre re-opening.

Cover image credit: shutterstock.com
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