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RIBA holds road bridge design competition

CONTROVERSIAL PLANS to replace a key road bridge in Suffolk will reach a major milestone next week when five competing designs go before a panel of judges.

The competition to find a replacement for the historic Ballingdon Bridge in Sudbury was organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects, after locals objected to the design put forward by Suffolk County Council last year.

Original plans to use carbon fibre plate bonding to strengthen the 90 year old Hennebiquedesigned concrete structure were abandoned when serious foundation problems were discovered. SCC developed a precast concrete five arch design as a replacement.

'The planning committee considered the design was too heavy and there was great concern locally about the disruption involved, ' said SCC bridge improvement and maintenance manager Nigel Burrows.

'There is no convenient alternative crossing of the River Stour for traffic heading south on the A131 and local residents were facing 18 months of single line working across the bridge.'

The design competition is believed to be the first held by RIBA for a road bridge. It attracted more than 30 entries, now whittled down to a shortlist of five.

Those shortlisted include Robert Benaim, Ove Arup and Maunsell with entries ranging from precast twin span structures to a 34m span steel bowstring arch. SCC hopes to start work on the new bridge, budgeted to cost £1.4M, early next spring.

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