The poor state of the structure Pinfold Bridge led to the decision by City of Wolverhampton Council to close the Lichfield Road and make the structure safe. The Pinfold Bridge is an important access over the Wyrley and Essington canal for the highway and for the people and residents of Wednesfield. The structural works on the bridge has caused much economic disruption, and has led to the closure of the Wyrley & Essington canal at this point.
The reconstruction of the bridge is a big issue to both traders and local residents in Wednesfield. Many commuters are forced into making long diversions. The canal community and the Narrow boats that travel the canal network have been blocked from using the Wyrley & Essington canal. This has led to frustrations and criticism from the canal boat and leisure boat community.
I have been asked many times recently regarding why the construction work is taking so long….Here is the response I have been given by Officers from Wolverhampton City Officers.
The Bridge has been delayed due the following reasons:
- The Council originally planned to close the bridge to everyone for the full duration of the works and divert pedestrians through Wednesfield Park. Due to the high volume of objections the Council received regarding the safety and length of the diverted route including loss of trade to the town centre, the decision was taken by the Council to construct a temporary pedestrian footbridge alongside the main bridge to facilitate the movement of pedestrians. Construction of the temporary bridge and maintaining use of the main bridge delayed the original programme by around 4 weeks.
- Unexpected structural defects were identified. When the bridge deck was removed, structural defects were encountered that we did not expect to find. To fully repair the bridge, the Contractor has had to carry out additional work and it has taken longer than at first anticipated.
- A construction defect in the cill beams was identified by the Council. To correct this defect, the Contractor had to lift off the cross beams and reseat the cill beams on the bearing shelf. This involved a significant crane operation, and statutory undertakers were delayed from diverting their apparatus while this work was undertaken by the Contractor. The defect correction works delayed the overall programme by two weeks. This had a knock on impact on statutory undertakers diversionary works, that has led to further delays.
- Statutory Undertakers have not performed as well as the City Council had hoped or would have expected. The service diversions on the bridge are complicated in so much as apparatus had to be moved to temporary positions while beam replacement works were carried out, then moved to another temporary position, before being moved into the final permanent position. This involves several companies and their workforces working together. The process is sequential and dependant on everyone finishing on time.
- City Council have had to be very careful about disruption to services, Severn Trent’s water main directly supplies water to New Cross Hospital and we needed to make sure we had the necessary precautions and personnel on site to deal with any issues. British Telecom’s apparatus provides broadband and telephone services to a significant number of properties and businesses in the Wednesfield area; again this needed to be carefully planned.
I have explained to the City Officials that users of the canal have been very vociferous about the delays to the opening of the canal for boat traffic, and that some constituents are finding the loss of the highway to the High street time costly, and frustrating.
The response I have received also added “The Council understands your constituents’ frustration and I would like to assure you that we are doing everything possible to complete these essential works as quickly as possible. This has included paying for statutory undertakers and the contractor to work longer hours and over the weekend to accelerate the programme works, so that the canal can be opened to navigation.”
Councillor Phil Bateman added – “The safety and the safe use of this Bridge is of prime importance for all of us. I accept that there has had to be changes made in the timescales. It is of course frustrating and costly to everyone. But the Bridge was essential work , and it had to be replaced and that is the primary issue. I hope everyone understands better now why the delay has taken place.
Sadly one of the consequences of the delay, will be the loss of the BCN Cruise where a flotilla of Narrowboat comes and visits Wednesfield. The Cruise organisers have written to me informing me that they will be cancelling there May visit date….that in itself will mean the loss of spending power in local shops and restaurants. Clearly everyone is disappointed. But safety has to be the priority for everyone.
The date for the revised opening for the canal navigation is now Saturday 27th May at 8.00am.