It is with huge regret that we announce a delay to the works necessary to make the Gasworks Pipe Bridge safe to cross again.
The bridge has been closed since March 2021 after the findings from a routine structural survey indicated it was no longer safe. The bridge is now not expected to be open to the public until summer 2024.
Oxford City Council is acutely aware of the huge impact this closure is having on the surrounding communities and allocated funds for its refurbishment.
The City Council does not have in-house bridge experts, so appointed external designers and engineers. Following the appointment of the contractor, a revised programme indicated that the bridge could reopen in September 2023. However, since then, the contractor has reviewed the proposed repair programme and concluded the bridge is too weak to support the proposed temporary scaffold structure.
An alternative temporary structure is needed to allow the contractors to undertake the work. This new structure will need to sit lower to the water and take longer to erect and dismantle.
Because the temporary structure is lower, the Environment Agency (EA), who are responsible for the river, cannot allow this structure to be in place during the official boating season. This means the works cannot start until November 2023, and are unlikely to finish until summer 2024.
The City Council, and the contractor, are working with the EA to see if this start date can be brought forward to September, where river traffic is lower, but will not have this confirmed until the works licence is issued in September.
It is hugely frustrating that this delay has arisen. The City Council has written to our appointed technical experts, to request a senior level meeting to understand how this has happened and what further mitigations and sureties can be put in place around the programme. We are also working on wider mitigations on regard to the diversion routes, including better lighting during the winter months.
A drop in event with the technical team will be held in early August, details will be published nearer the time. FAQs can be found on the Gaswork Pipe Bridge webpage. If you have any further queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Ed Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Asset Management, said: “I want to apologise for the continued disruption that local residents are facing, and for the delays to the construction programme. This has rightly caused much anger and frustration and the Council is extremely disappointed that this situation has arisen.
“Clearly, we have to put safety first, both for the public and for the contractors working to strengthen the bridge. However, where the Council does not have expertise in place, we seek it externally and it is disappointing that the solution recommended by our experts appears not to be workable, causing further delay in reopening the bridge. I have asked officers to work with the engineers and appointed contractors to work as swiftly as possible to get work started, and then get it finished. We will update the progress on this in September.
Local councillors and I have also asked officers to look at where improvements can be made to the diversion routes ahead of the autumn.”