SOLIHULL Council is set to request £4.5 million from the Department for Transport to deal with the long-delayed replacement of a bridge in Meriden.
The Fillongley Road bridge over the A45 is due for replacement 60 years after it was built, as engineers’ concerns grow for the strength of ‘beams and bearings’ in the bridge.
Highways bosses at Solihull Council are applying to receive Whitehall cash from the local highways maintenance challenge fund.
Work on the bridge was due to be completed by December 2018, according to original proposals from Solihull Council.
Announcing the bridge plans in 2017, the council said: “There will be improvement works on the Fillongley Road Bridge which spans the A45 – works are expected to start in January 2018 and are due to be completed by the end of March 2019.
“The bridge, built in 1958, has had nearly 60 years of constant, heavy use and following a routine structural assessment, it now needs replacing in order to last for a further 60 years. Balfour Beatty has been appointed as the main contractor to carry out the works on behalf of the council.”
The highways department planned to close the bridge and divert motorists away from Fillongley Road when announcing the works in September 2017, when the West Midlands Combined Authority pledged £1 million for the repairs, expecting it to be completed by 2018.
In January 2018, after no work had started, the engineering contractor Balfour Beatty was ordered to review the repair designs to reduce closure time and prevent diversions, reducing costs for the project. At the time, Solihull council said: “We are currently reviewing the design specification to deliver a more cost effective solution, which hopefully will minimise disruptions to motorists.”
In October 2018, the council told Meriden residents it had continued monitoring the condition of Fillongley Road Bridge, concluding significant work was required.
Ahead of a council cabinet meeting today (November 7), Liz Grove, funding manager, reported to councillors: “The application for £4.49m is to support the replacing of the top deck of Fillongley Bridge. If bearings and beams on the bridge are not replaced in the future, there may be a need to close Fillongley Road which may have further impacts on the A45, including potential lane closures.
“Whilst temporary measures in the form of safety barriers have been introduced to enable the bridge to remain open, there are no lower-cost alternatives which would provide a lasting solution in the long-term.”
Solihull Council highways department have been contacted for comment.