Peterborough’s Rhubarb Bridge to survive after new report showed it was in better condition than first thought

Rhubarb Bridge EMN-170815-173050009
Rhubarb Bridge EMN-170815-173050009
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Rhubarb Bridge could last another 10 years under works which were signed off by Peterborough City Council’s cabinet yesterday morning.

More than a year after revealing plans to knock down the important foot and cycle bridge at the A47/A15 junction near Brotherhood Shopping Park, the council has now given the go ahead for major repairs to be made to the structure.

Speaking at yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Peter Hiller, cabinet member for growth, planning, housing and economic development, said: “It’s become apparent through a very comprehensive structural report that the bridge is in better overall condition than originally thought and can be repaired for a significant period.”

Cllr Hiller said the cabinet had “listened to concerns” by setting up a working group on Rhubarb after a campaign had formed against the bridge’s proposed demolition.

It was the working group’s recommendation to keep the bridge in place by spending around £1 million to make the necessary repairs to the structure.

The money had originally been earmarked for knocking down the bridge.

The council had previously claimed that the bridge was nearing the end of its life, but this was contradicted by a new structural report which has been funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority at a cost of around £250,000.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich, who chaired the working group, confirmed that it had unanimously agreed not to look at long-term options for the bridge, adding: “In 10 years we might have different options.”

The overall scheme for the A47/A15 junction will cost £5.5 million, of which £3.85 million has been funded by the Department for Transport.

Apart from the bridge repairs, the road below Rhubarb will be widened and signalised pedestrian (at grade) crossings across the roundabout will be brought in.

Cllr Holdich said the bridge will be closed while repairs are made, and that it will not be possible to make the bridge “compliant” for people with disabilities.

He added: “If we want to make it disability compliant we would need a totally different bridge in place. The at grade crossings allows disabled people to cross the road.”

Cabinet adviser to the leader Cllr Steve Allen said: “It’s good to see we have found a way to save this structure which is strangely loved by so many. Are the Department for Transport happy we changed the original bid that the bridge would be demolished?”

Principal sustainable transport planning officer Lewis Banks said: “They were fully supportive. There are no issues at all.”

The main problems for the bridge, it was stated, were elements of concrete which were built on site.

Mr Banks added: “Quite a lot of bridges in Peterborough have elements built on site that have lasted a lot longer and don’t have many issues.”

The repairs on the bridge are expected to start later this year.

FACTFILE

. Full plans to demolish Rhubarb Bridge were unveiled in August 2017 having already twice been approved in principle by councillors.

. The £5.5 million project was for Toucan crossings at the A47/A15 roundabout, including on the slip roads, with extra lanes for motorists.

. A petition against the plans led to a Full Council debate where a working group was set up to look at all options for the bridge.

. Last December council leader Cllr John Holdich promised there would continue to be a bridge after new surveys showed it could be repaired to last for several years.