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Traffic chaos predicted as bridge over M5 repaired

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

Looking down:  A bridge over the M5 will be repaired, with work starting in the spring

Looking down: A bridge over the M5 will be repaired, with work starting in the spring

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COMMUTERS will face traffic chaos after highways bosses said they would make repairs to a bridge over the M5 in the spring.

The Department of Transport had initially insisted that the Piffs Elm bridge at junction 10 could not be repaired, only replaced.

But it has now backtracked over plans, saying innovative working techniques will allow for repairs after all.

The road will not be closed to traffic, but delays are expected as the work goes ahead.

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The Government agency also admitted that plans for creating a four-way junction at the spot would not be discussed until after the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) – a housing plan for Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester – had been finalised. This could take another two years.

Businesses close to junction 10, just outside Cheltenham, had called for the work to be done to enable traffic to join the motorway going south and exit going north. They insisted it would increase trade and prevent many unnecessary journeys through the town.

The bid, backed by an Echo campaign, was prompted a year ago by plans to replace the junction's 40-year-old motorway bridge.

Plans to close the road while it was replaced led to outcry.

Detailed plans for the scheme have not been finalised, but work should start in April.

Simon Daws, landlord of the Gloucester Old Spot close to the junction, campaigned for the work to be carried out.

"It is about time they realised it did not need to be entirely replaced," he said.

"The bridge needs repairing with the minimal amount of disruption."

Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson met transport minister Stephen Hammond to discuss the junction yesterday.

He said: "If the work needs to be done, then it has to be done, but I am putting on pressure to get it done as quickly as possible."

Highways Agency area performance manager Dave Sledge said: "Further assessment has shown only the supporting structure needs to be repaired, alleviating the need to replace the bridge as originally intended."

Another study was carried out by the agency on whether to upgrade the junction by building extra entry and exit slip roads.

Regional planning manager Andrew Page-Dove said: "The key conclusion from the study is that such a junction upgrade would not provide an overall benefit to the present traffic conditions."

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  • Michael_AH  |  November 09 2012, 7:45PM

    so, if Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester councils pull their collective fingers out and agree the Joint Core Strategy the Department will then consider improving Junction 10 to a full north/south one. So Councillors, stop dragging your heels and make an agreement

  • tishwash  |  November 09 2012, 3:19PM

    @cheltm2012 nope, no southbound for now.

  • dontyaknow  |  November 08 2012, 6:46PM

    Lord_Gaga - it was built in the 60's. You may have noticed that most post war structures are incredibly ugly and very poorly built. The sooner they are replaced, the better. Goodness only knows what they were smoking in the 60's to end up with the brutal buildings that adorn our Towns and Cities to this day.

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  • cheltm2012  |  November 08 2012, 6:31PM

    good we can get a southbound exit now

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  • tishwash  |  November 08 2012, 5:19PM

    If it's to be done as quick as possible I hope they're going to be working on it 24/7

  • Matt1006  |  November 08 2012, 9:16AM

    Lord_Gaga - the bridge is decades old, so that's a non-starter. The company who built it originally have probably be bought out / taken over / gone bust several times. In an ideal world, a totally-new full access junction should be built to the south of the existing junction, to include a new dual carriageway link to the west to a new roundabout on the A38, thereby doing away with the Coombe Hill traffic lights junction as well. The new junction could be largely built without causing any issues to the existing road network, and then once finished & opened the old knackered bridge could be demolished. But this would cost tens of millions, so realistically is never likely to happen. Strange though that these apparently innovative working techniques are now being considered to repair the current bridge - so why weren't they considered 12 months ago when the works were first discussed? And if a junction upgrade is going to hinge on the JCS, it could be another decade. At present it seems the local Councils can't agree on who's turn it is to buy the biscuits for the next doomed-to-fail meeting on the JCS, never mind actually agreeing on the details for the JCS itself.

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  • safeandnice  |  November 08 2012, 9:12AM

    It's hardly a duff bridge - its just reaching the end of its useful life. Go down the M50 built early 60s to see where theyre taking out whole bridges and using dual running on the other carriageway so as to install new ones

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  • Lord_Gaga_  |  November 08 2012, 9:04AM

    I hope who ever built the duff bridge will be asked to pay for the repair, i doubt it though, they are probably a big contributer to the tories, thats how they got the job in the first place.

    |   -11
  • Walker100  |  November 08 2012, 8:33AM

    Highways Agency area performance manager Dave Sledge said: "Further assessment has shown only the supporting structure needs to be repaired, alleviating the need to replace the bridge as originally intended." Regional planning manager Andrew Page-Dove said: "The key conclusion from the study is that such a junction upgrade would not provide an overall benefit to the present traffic conditions." So let's get this right. You completely c0cked up your first assessment which, if it went ahead, would have probably wasted hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds, no-one has been sacked for their part in that c0ck up but now we are to believe you when you say you've studied upgrading the junction and it's not worth it. Mmmmm.....computer says "No"! Please can TiG ask Andrew Page-Dove whether or not traffic alleviation at Junction 11 and the surrounding area including PE Way was included in their assessment?

    |   6
  • safeandnice  |  November 08 2012, 8:24AM

    Surely the obvious thing is to build a second bridge to allow the first to be repaired, then use both bridges as a new full junction. The houses may end up in the middle! How to avoid the junction becoming over developed as at Ashchurch?

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