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Commuters who have to use a bridge in Peterborough were relieved when work to strengthen it finally came to an end last summer, but it cost the council an extra £1.6 million to complete the proposed structural repairs.

Work to replace bearings on six of the eight piers at Nene Bridge took place between May 2018 and August 2019, which caused significant disruption to traffic in the area for over a year, Peterborough Today reported.

While the original budget for the job was £5.1 million budget, the local authority had to go ahead with an alternative method to avoid any more delays. As a result, this meant costs spiralled even further to enable commuters to begin using the route over the River Nene and the railway line again.

In addition to providing access to vehicles over the Frank Perkins Parkway, the bridge is also used by pedestrians and cyclists to travel between the north and south of the city.

According to the council: “The original method planned to provide access to the four piers located within the River Nene proving to be unsuitable during the project.”

It intended to create a piled platform in the riverbed to enable the works to go ahead, but did not appreciate how big the platform would need to be, saying it would have been “far greater than originally envisaged”.

If they had pursued this, the cost and time it would have taken to complete the project would have to have been extended. Additionally, it would have taken up more space in the River Nene, causing complications to the city if there was a flood.

Therefore, an alternative plan was drawn up to provide access to the bearings from the river.

Overnight road closures were put in place to enable work to go ahead over a period of 18 months and the project was completed on time.

It is essential the bearings were replaced on the bridge, which was originally structured in 1984, as they are used to transfer the loads between the main structure and supporting features.

While six of the eight piers were completed during the repair work, two more still need to be replaced. This project is going ahead, although it is unclear when it will be complete due to disruptions caused by coronavirus lockdown procedures.

A huge number of bridges in the UK need to be strengthened to ensure they are safe for people to use, with 70 per cent of Highways England and nearly a third (30 per cent) of Network Rail bridges made up of reinforced concrete.

This is because concrete deteriorates over time thanks to a number of reasons, including freeze-thaw, sulfate attacks and alkalai-silica reactions. As the bridges are exposed to the weather throughout the years, they can suffer from erosion, cracking, chloride ingress and corrosion. In addition to this, traffic can cause wear and tear, particularly on popular routes.

To ensure bridges remain strong and reliable, get in touch with structural strengthening companies like CCUK today.