Cleveland Bridge was built in in 1826 for horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians to access the city of Bath. Today it carries the A36 which is a major strategic highway to the South Coast with daily traffic of up to 17,000 vehicles. Without this river crossing, all traffic would either need to route through the historic centre of Bath, along streets which are protected by access and weight restrictions, or divert using roads to the east which would incur a significant additional journey time and costs.
The bridge is a Grade II* listed structure (particularly significant buildings of more than special interest) and needs to be protected from further deterioration. Surveys have identified that structural components of the bridge are life expired and in need of maintenance, repair or replacement. The proposed refurbishment works include repairs to the deck slabs and masonry abutments, repainting the footway beams, waterproofing, installing protective coating systems to support the ongoing safe use of the bridge, repair damage and conserve the structure to maintain its structural integrity and heritage values.
Due to the extensive nature of the refurbishment and the cost of these works, the Council is seeking to secure financial assistance from the Government through the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund. As a precautionary measure until the works can be carried out, the Council will be introducing an 18 tonne weight restriction on the bridge from Monday 3 February 2020. Vehicles over this weight currently passing through Bath on the A36 will be diverted on alternative routes which the Council’s traffic management team have developed with the neighbouring authorities and Highways England. The recommended routes for vehicles exceeding 18 tonnes are shown on this leaflet.
The repairs are still in the planning stages, but once funding is in place it is anticipated that they will be carried out during summer 2020. The proposed works will help ensure that the bridge and its fabric have an extended life, maintaining its heritage significance, its traffic and accessibility function and its contribution to the setting of other heritage assets in the near vicinity. More information will be added to this page as it becomes available.
- The bridge originally comprised cast iron arch arches founded on Bath stone abutments with Greek style lodges (tollhouses) on each corner. In 1929, the bridge was strengthened with substantial reinforced concrete trusses between the cast iron arches to support heavier combustion engine vehicles.
- Further strengthening work and footways were added to the bridge in 1992 to accommodate increased pedestrian movement across the bridge.
- The bridge is currently used by vehicles up to 44t in weight. Approximately 600 vehicles over 18 tonnes use the bridge each day. It is estimated that just over a third of all HGVs that currently use the bridge are travelling through Bath rather than having made a delivery or begun their journey in the city.
- The Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund reflects the government’s commitment to ensure a well maintained local highway infrastructure and enables local highway authorities to bid for major maintenance projects that would otherwise be difficult to fund.
Frequently Asked Questions
What works will be required to strengthen the bridge?
The following work will be required to ensure the long-term future of the bridge:
- Repairs to the concrete truss and strengthening of the concrete deck.
- Refurbishment and repainting of original cast iron arches and parapets.
- Waterproofing and resurfacing works.
What will happen if you don’t strengthen the bridge?
If we do not repair and strengthen the bridge imminently, it will have to be permanently closed to 18 tonne traffic. If it continues to deteriorate, the bridge will have to be closed to all traffic which would have significant long-term impact on the movement of traffic in and out of Bath.
How will the work be delivered?
Because of the extensive nature of the work, the Council is currently looking to put together a funding package that would enable works to be delivered in 2020. Once funding is confirmed, further details of the project will be announced, however it is expected that a full closure will be necessary for a period of time to enable the strengthening to be undertaken as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Can you do the work without closing the bridge?
We have looked at alternative ways of delivering the work, which would allow some restricted traffic to use the bridge while work is taking place. However, even using this method a weight restriction would still be needed, the overall duration of the work would increase and some closures would still have to take place. Using a full closure is the quickest, most effective way of carrying out the strengthening and getting the bridge open to all traffic as soon as possible.
Will the weight restriction affect public transport?
Local buses will be unaffected by the restriction, however some larger coaches may be impacted.
Where can I find a copy of the bid document for the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund?
Copies of bid documents for the Challenge Fund are published on the Travelwest web site