Finchingfield bridge repair plan unveiled

PUBLISHED: 08:53 27 September 2018

A packed Finchingfield Parish Council meeting on Tuesday (September 25) where concerned residents asked questions about the latest plans. Pictures: ARCHANT

A packed Finchingfield Parish Council meeting on Tuesday (September 25) where concerned residents asked questions about the latest plans. Pictures: ARCHANT

Archant

Work to replace a bridge which connects two halves of Finchingfield could begin next summer, Essex Highways has suggested.

Replacing the bridge could take up to five months, however, meaning a 15-mile diversion, which, according to the chairman of Finchingfield Parish Council, heavy good vehicles (HGVs) will use.

Villagers, meanwhile, will be able to use shorter diversions and local roads.

At a Finchingfield Parish Council meeting on Tuesday evening, concerned members of the public questioned Essex Highways representative Vicky Presland over the plans.

Ms Presland said the width of the new bridge will be exactly the same as the current one which had “deteriorated”.

Linda de Silva, the practice manager at Freshwell Health Centre in Finchingfield, said that a lot of patients were based in Great Bardfield, on the other side of the bridge to the centre, and asked how they would be able to reach the surgery. She said some patients would be physically unable to reach the surgery, if they parked on the green.

She said: “It takes a long time to get an ambulance here... we need to be able to get our professionals out to help them because if we can’t get to them quickly, we could lose them.”

Ms Presland answered: “We will hold meetings with you as individuals. We have got some ideas to deal with the surgery. What we are trying to do is speak to the properties next to the bridge.” She said the health centre was “high” on their list of people to speak to.

Ms Presland also said that Essex Highways had approached the emergency services, and no formal objections had been raised to the road closure.

The centre of the village would be a “building site for the best part of the year”, if a proposal to build a temporary bridge whilst the work was being completed, had gone ahead, according to Councillor Graham Tobbell, chairman of the parish council said.

Mr Tobbell said: “We tried to come up with a solution that will take the shortest amount of time” and said Essex Highways are working to create temporary car parking areas for people visiting the village.

Essex County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Cllr Kevin Bentley, said: “We continue to listen to concerns from local residents and business owners around plans for Finchingfield bridge and the much-needed work to improve safety and sustain the bridge for the future.”

“We are at an early stage in the process and just starting to invite interested parties to discuss concerns they may have. We will then work together with local business owners and affected residents to keep any disruption to a minimum.”

“Essex Highways officers were part of a well-attended Finchingfield Parish Council meeting last night and offered an update on proposals. We will now reflect on all the points of view expressed and take them into account where possible in our plans for the project.”

“The current proposals that have been put forward have been developed in partnership between the county council, Braintree District Council and Finchingfield Parish Council. We will explore together any potential measures to mitigate the impact on the local community as much as is practically possible.”

Essex County Council, responsible for Essex Highways, said that next steps include site investigation works which are needed to gather information for the design work. This will require a full road closure at the bridge for up to five days.

According to Essex County Council, this work is necessary to allow highways to gather essential information from trial holes and bore holes above the bridge and work underneath the structure.

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