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Access problems delay work on Ballingdon Bridge

MULTIPLE PROBLEMS with access and services have delayed, by at least five months, construction of the UK's first road bridge to be procured via a design competition.

Construction of a replacement for the ageing Ballingdon Bridge on the A131 just south of Sudbury, Suffolk, was due to start earlier this year.

But access problems that have dogged the project have caused further delay.

The crossing was the subject of the first Royal Institute of British Architects-organised design competition for a road bridge last year (NCE 10/17 August 2000). A precast design by Arup and architect Brookes Stacy Randall won the vote over 30 other entries, largely because of an innovative 'splitting' temporary bridge design which would minimise single lane working during the projected 58-week construction period.

But Suffolk County Council bridge improvements and maintenance manager Nigel Burrows said this week: 'Our only practical access is a pub car park at one corner - and we're having to buy the pub to get the unrestricted use we need.'

He added: 'There are continuing negotiations with the landowners at the other three corners, and the problems with eight BT ducts in the existing bridge continue. By delaying the start of work until the summer, we give ourselves the possibility of dealing with the ducts in advance.'

Arup will also take advantage of the delay to tune its design, according to associate Stuart Smith.

'We're sticking to the original principles, and we are still planning on the basis of the contractor adapting standard temporary bridge units, but we should be able to refine the details of the logistics involved in getting the large precast units into position, ' added Smith.

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