A £5.1m infrastructure renewal project from Network Rail is underway, as engineers seek to secure the railway through Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire’s High Peak.
The Grade II listed bridge, which takes the railway over Buxton Road, is a heritage structure that has served the community since 1863, but despite the regular maintenance works over the years, the railway crossing must now be significantly strengthened with a major upgrade to keep passengers safe for years to come.
To preserve the heritage status of the structure, Network Rail is working carefully with High Peak Borough Council and Historic England. The engineering teams will preserve up to one third of the original structure, whilst replacing the rest of the bridge, in keeping with the original designs and aesthetic.
Without these requisite works being conducted, the risk of a bridge bash from a tall vehicle could halt all train movements for months, thus completely cutting off Whaley Bridge, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Dove Holes and Buxton from the railway network.
So, engineers can replace the bridge safely, from today (Monday 16 January) the following traffic restrictions will be in place on Buxton Road:
- From 16 January – 31 March 2023, the road will be fully closed to traffic.
- From 16 February – 5 March 2023, there will be no pedestrian access under the bridge.
- Works are expected to be complete by April 2023.
Due to the heritage status of the bridge with its geographical location, sitting above the main road in and out of the town, these renewal works are very complex and will require a complete road closure over several weeks. Whilst this will cause major disruption to the local community, the project team have met with local people earlier this month, offering them a platform to voice their concerns on how these works will affect residents and businesses.
Coming from suggestions at these public events, a shuttle bus service will become available from 23rd January, helping people with additional mobility needs traverse from one side of Whaley Bridge to the other. Network Rail will be collaborating with the local bus company further, identifying ways that the services can be strengthened throughout the road closure.
Rob Stephens, Network Rail principal route engineer, said:
“It was positive to meet residents and business owners recently so we could have the chance to explain in detail why this vital bridge upgrade needs to be carried out, and also fully understand their concerns and what more we could do to reduce the impacts of our work on the town.
“Because of the bridge’s special heritage status, we have to preserve as many of its original features as possible, which means the work will take much longer than a standard bridge replacement.
“We’re committed to keeping everyone up to date while our work to secure Whaley Bridge’s railway link progresses and will be working as hard as we can to make sure the full road closure is as short as possible.”
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