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Bridge work starts on busy Exeter commuter route

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 27, 2013

By Mike Byrne

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Drivers using one of the busiest commuter routes into Exeter can expect even more delays this month.

Bridge Road at Countess Wear's currently a traffic congestion hotspot, suffering from tailbacks which block the Countess Wear junction and its approach routes.

Now Devon County Council is planning to widen Bridge Road to provide two continuous outbound lanes from Countess Wear to the Matford roundabout in order to tackle queuing and reduce journey times for all traffic, while at the same time improving pedestrian and cycle facilities.

Work on the main widening scheme is not scheduled to start until 2015, but, the first phase in the Bridge Road improvements will start on Monday, January 13.

Once utility cables have been moved and replaced, concrete piled foundations will be installed within the piers of the historic Grade II Listed Countess Wear Bridge, which will eventually support a new cantilevered cycleway and walkway. This will enable the road over the bridge to be widened to carry two lanes in both directions.

As a piling rig will be working on top of the bridge, one of the inbound lanes will need to be closed, reducing Bridge Road to one traffic lane in each direction with a temporary speed limit of 30mph.

A pedestrian and cycle route will be maintained throughout the work.

Working time restrictions have been placed on the work due to environmental restrictions, but it is hoped the work will be completed by Friday, May 16 or earlier if possible.

This initial phase will not provide any permanent change to the road layout. Following completion of the piling and load testing of the installed concrete piles, the highway will return to three-lanes until the construction of the walkway/cycleway starts in 2015.

The new structure will be added to the upstream side of the existing Countess Wear Bridge in order to provide room for an additional traffic lane.

The Bridge Road widening scheme was originally part of the £35million “Exeter Principal Urban Area” major scheme bid to Government and public exhibitions about the proposals were held at various locations at the time.

In 2009, Devon County Council gained Listed Building Consent for the construction of the cantilevered walkway and cycleway.

Although the major scheme as a whole was dropped following the Government’s comprehensive spending review in 2010, Devon County Council has progressed the individual elements of the scheme so they can be completed as part of a phased development programme.

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