On Air Now
Heart's Feel Good Weekend with Zoe Hardman 9am - 12pm
19 February 2014, 07:42 | Updated: 19 February 2014, 07:45
The closure of Whitchurch bridge could go on for longer following more flooding
The owners of a route usually used by 6,000 drivers a day in the Thames Valley have told Heart it could be WEEKS before work resumes following more flooding.
Bad weather's already put improvements to Whitchurch bridge linking Oxfordshire and Berkshire back until July.
Contractors have now confirmed to us they're drawing up a new timetable for the work, after being forced to stop again because of fresh floods.
In January 2014 we were warned delays on one of the main links between Oxfordshire and Berkshire usually used by around six thousand driver s a day will now go on until at least July.
Whitchurch Bridge was due to reopen in April after 6 months of work, but recent flooding has caused delays to the improvement works being carried out.
Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has expressed his frustration on behalf of individuals and local businesses affected by the closure and had written to the Whitchurch Bridge Company and alfour Beatty Construction Services UK calling for urgent talks.
“I have written today to the Whitchurch Bridge Company and Balfour Beatty asking for an urgent meeting to update on the reasons for the unexpected three months delay. We have had about five weeks of bad weather, but that does not explain a three month delay and unless there is a focus on this I am very concerned that the timetable will slip further. I will be proposing to the companies that we set up a local liaison group, involving representatives of local councils and businesses, to monitor progress of the works.”
Pangbourne District Councillor Pamela Bale said: “I am very disappointed to hear that the planned opening of the new bridge has been significantly delayed. I appreciate that the severe weather has prevented the contractor from working on the River Thames for some 5 weeks, but the delay will further exacerbate the impact on businesses in Pangbourne. “
What contractors say:
Contractors have already told us they're looking at other ways of working IF the flooding continues.
“Balfour Beatty is totally committed to carrying out the reconstruction of Whitchurch Bridge as quickly as possible for the Whitchurch Bridge Company and residents of Berkshire and Oxfordshire. We have been faced with unprecedented river conditions during this project and unfortunately it has been unsafe to carry out works on the river since before Christmas. We have been urgently looking at alternative ways of working should the flooding continue, consulting with all interested parties, and we will complete this project as soon as safely possible.”