ONE of Gainsborough’s busiest main roads was closed for four days as the 150-year old Lea Road railway bridge was successfully replaced – and minor traffic disruption looks set to continue for a month.
The new structure was built on a site at the side of Lea Road over the last few weeks – and experts say it last another 120 years.
While the road was closed diversion route was in place via the A631 to the east to Caenby Corner roundabout and the A15 south towards Lincoln – a route which added upwards of half an hour to many motorists journeys when travelling to and from Lincoln.
Network Rail used specialised tyre-mounted heavy lifting platforms over the weekend from Friday 5th and Tuesday 9th August to take out the old structure on the A156 from Lincoln and move the brand new bridge into position.
The old bridge, which has been branded as an ‘eyesore’ by local residents, was finally taken away in the early hours of Saturday morning in what Network Rail officials have dubbed a ‘spectacular event.’
Rob Noble from Lincs Electrical and Plumbing Engineers runs his business from Lea Road and said he was very impressed with the skill and efficiency displayed by the team working on the bridge.
“I was working while the road was closed and unfortunately a lot of my work was in the opposite direction,” he said.
“To be honest, I didn’t really find the diversion a massive upheaval and they were all done on time as they promised.”
He continued: “The whole thing was very quick and completed on schedule and I was actually very impressed.”
Rob added: “The old bridge was looking really shabby and a bit of an eyesore so this work really needed doing and I’m happy to say that the new bridge looks absolutely fantastic.”
Meanwhile, another motorist from Fenton, near Laughterton said: “I appreciate that the work needed to be done to be train users safe, but it didn’t half make getting in and out of Gainsborough an absolute nightmare.”
He added: “I took the diversion at Marton and it took me an extra 40 minutes to get into town. The new bridge looks a lot better but I’m too happy about the one-way traffic lights.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said that the old bridge was in dire need of replacement.
“The old bridge is pretty tatty and has reached the end of its useful life,” he said.
“It’s a massive piece of work and it’s quite a tight site, so it’s got to be engineered properly. So, instead of long disruptive work that will cause a lot of heartache for local people we’ve done everything we can to get ready for the big weekend, then do it all in one hit.”
He continued: “It’s been deliberately timed to coincide with the school holidays to create the minimum disruption possible.”
He added: “We now have a smart new bridge which will last for a further 120 years.”
Area highways manager for Lincolnshire County Council Steve Wiles dubbed the completion of the work ‘a spectacular event.’
He added: “It is something like 140 tonnes of bridge deck that has to be lifted into place.”
The new bridge was put in place by around 4pm on Saturday before specialist crews worked throughout the night and Sunday to lay new tracks.
The train line was re-opened by Monday, however, single-lane traffic lights shall be in place on Lea Road for the next four weeks while finishing work is completed over the next four weeks.
To see our video footage of work taking place to replace the bridge head over to www.gainsboroughstandard.co.uk