Thursday, 5 March 2015

Aldcliffe Road bridge wall to be repaired by end of March?

Broken wall at Aldcliffe Bridge
Photo taken 30 November 2015

Lancashire County Council and Virtual Lancaster have this week received assurances from the developers at Aldcliffe Yard that the repairs to the Canal Bridge wall will be completed and the temporary traffic lights removed by 27 March - or in 6 weeks (respectively).

Temporary traffic lights were put in place on Aldcliffe Road, at its junction with Carr House Lane, last November after the collapse of the roadside wall by Aldcliffe Bridge. This was an accidental consequence of work undertaken by the construction company building the 'Aldcliffe Yard' residential development on the far bank of the canal. The road has been reduced to a single, narrow lane, controlled by the temporary lights.

Damaged drain Aldcliffe Road
Photo taken and added on 6 March 2015
Over the following months residents have not seen any evidence of any repair work being undertaken on the wall, although it has continued on the main construction site. A drain  on the fish and chip shop side of the controlled lane has begun to sink as, the road being reduced to a single narrow lane, heavy vehicles going both ways cannot avoid it.

The traffic lights are on a junction, but only control part of it, leaving a precarious arrangement for pedestrians and for traffic entering and leaving Carr House Lane.  Aldcliffe Residents Association spoke to the site manager in early February after a member saw a cyclist forced off the road.

Chris Norman reported in their blog that 'The initial quote for making the walls, both against the road and the Aldcliffe Triangle, safe was seen as too expensive by the developer. Four further schemes have also been seen as too expensive for this “unexpected” cost."

This was unfortunate indeed. The bridge, No 98 on the Lancaster Canal, is the sole remaining unaltered drovers' bridge between Preston and Tewitfield and residents wish it to retain its original appearance and charm.

On 19 February Virtual Lancaster emailed Martin Taylor, of Construction Partnership UK to ask what plans were in place (if any) for a repair and when it would be completed. We received an autoresponse but no reply.

On 2 March Virtual Lancaster then emailed Richard Thomas, Development Director at bloc group, who are the Canal and River Trust's development partner for this new housing project. He replied to us on the following day, saying

"We have been agreeing the best detail for rebuilding this wall with all key stakeholders given the bridge is such an important historic asset. 

"We are pleased to confirm that the wall is now being replaced as was. Final detailed design is due from our Engineer this week. We will then instruct our contractor CPUK to complete the works to this detail.

"The works will take up to 4 weeks to complete. Therefore we expect this wall to be rebuilt as was within 6 weeks and the traffic lights then removed."

On the same day VL was pleased to be informed by local resident and City Cllr Dave Brookes that County Cllr Gina Dowding had been notified by Lancashire Highway Services that "We have had an update from the developer, who anticipates that the work will be completed, and traffic lights removed by Friday 27th March."

CPUK are building 14 'luxury homes' in a £2m development at Aldcliffe Yard. This project is expected to take 52 weeks. We sincerely hope that they have more luck with this venture than they have had in repairing this short section of wall.

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