Five day trial to encourage walking and cycling over Abingdon Bridge

Bid to turn ‘issue into opportunity’ at damaged landmark

Changes are taking place to the traffic restrictions on Abingdon Bridge as part of a five day trial to encourage more people to walk or cycle across it instead of driving.

The restrictions were introduced in May after an inspection revealed stonework on the northern arch of the bridge – which carries the A415 across the River Thames in Abingdon – had become displaced. Temporary traffic signals were put in place to enable vehicles up to 44 tonnes to continue to use the bridge safely.

From 26 - 30 July, Oxfordshire County Council will move the current temporary traffic signals further apart to either end of Abingdon Bridge – near to Thames Street in the north and the Rye Farm car park in the south to create a dedicated space for ‘active travel’, particularly cyclists and pedestrians, over the bridge.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: "We are trying to see if we can turn an issue into an opportunity by allowing cyclists and pedestrians more room on Abingdon Bridge while it is partially closed for urgent maintenance.

“During this week-long trial, we'll keep a close eye on the effect these changes have on traffic in the town and, if it works, we will make them permanent for the duration of the repairs and possibly beyond.

“It is important that we try to positively embrace challenges and look at ways we can best use the road space to support sustainable active forms of transport wherever possible.”

Due to the delays caused by the temporary traffic lights, it is hoped that more visitors to Abingdon will use the car parks in advance of the bridge, or even choose to cycle. During the trial, the northern lane of the carriageway will be used exclusively by cyclists and pedestrians. There is currently no dedicated cycling provision along Bridge Street.

Drivers and bus passengers are asked for their patience during this trial period as traffic signals will need to stay on red for slightly longer because of the increased distance between the two sets of temporary traffic lights. Highways officers will be monitoring the situation and adjust the timing of the lights, if required, to minimise delays.

People are invited to have their say on the impact of the changes by going to the Let’s Talk Abingdon Bridge consultation page.

It is likely to be several months before work can start on repairing the bridge and possibly more than a year before it is completed. The complex nature of repairing this historic bridge, which was built in the 15th century, and uncertainty over the availability of subcontractors with the specialist skills, are factors in the amount of time the work will take.

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