Railway path set to re-open at last
Published on: 05 May 2015
IT’S good news and bad news this month for users of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path.
Cyclists will be delighted that the track is reopening at Teewell Hill after being shut for six months because of bridge strengthing work, which meant they had to take lengthy diversions along roads in Staple Hill.
But bike commuters in both directions face further inconvenience because of work on the track.The popular stretch between Bitton Station and Saltford is being resurfaced, meaning a closure for three weeks, while on the way into Bristol the path will be shut for 10 weeks while it is widened.
South Gloucestershire Council angered cycle campaigners by originally saying that there would be no official diversion for the Bitton work, which will begin on Tuesday May 26, immediately after the bank holiday.
“Cyclists will need to find their own way,” the authority announced. But it later said it would put up signs giving riders details of an alternative route, a move that was welcomed by Bristol Cycling Campaign.
The work will be completed by June 19. The proposed resurfacing “will provide a nice smooth surface to cycle on and also reduce the requirement for regular maintenance,” the council said.
The Teewell Hill closure in October was originally supposed to be for just eight weeks to create foundations for the new wider bridge.
Now the track is finally due to reopen to pedestrians and cyclists on Friday May 1.
During the extended closure, the council has also carried out essential maintenance work to the Staple Hill tunnel, which including re-pointing the arch and airshafts.
South Gloucestershire Council’s head of Street Care and Transport Mark King said: “The railway path will reopen in time for the first May bank holiday weekend ensuring cyclists and walkers will be able to use the route for leisure or as part of their commute. We do apologise for any inconvenience caused while these essential works have been carried out and thank residents for their patience throughout the extended closure.
“There is still some remaining work to complete the new arch above the path, cap the piling, and carry out maintenance to the old masonry arch.
“When this has been completed the path will be cleaned and tidied and the fencing will be re-positioned. Additional work to complete the bridge widening improvements will continue over the next three months which will require short term closures from time to time. Any such closures will be clearly signposted in advance and we will keep residents notified via our website and social media.”
Staple Hill councillors Ian Boulton and Shirley Potts said they were pleased that the railway path would reopen while work on the Teewell Hill bridge was completed.
“Given the length of time it has taken to get this work done compared to other sites in our area we will be asking council officers to review what has gone wrong and learn the lessons from this project,” they said.
The work in Bristol will improve a busy section of the path as it approaches the city, where walkers and riders currently have to squeeze past each other.
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This is yet another example of the work we are doing to improve cycling infrastructure across the city with funding won from central Government.
“The Bristol to Bath Cycle Path is an extremely popular route for both commuters and people cycling for pleasure, as well as pedestrians, and this work will really help to make the path a more enjoyable experience for everyone.”