THE LONG-delayed replacement of a bridge in Meriden has finally been given the green light after Solihull Council’s funding application succeeded.
The council has been given £4.49m by the Department for Transport’s Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund to replace Fillongley Road Bridge over the A45.
Engineers have raised concerns over the strength of ‘beams and bearings’ in the 60-year-old bridge – raising fears it would have had to close.
The bridge has seen decades of constant, heavy use as a key route for goods, services and commuters.
The council’s environment and highways spokesman Coun Ken Hawkins said the funding award was ‘fantastic news’.
He said: “As Fillongley Bridge comes to the end of its life it was vital we secured the funding to replace it. We need it for current traffic but it will also play a role when the new employment opportunities are created in and around the HS2 station.
“While there is no immediate risk to road users, it was important we plan for the future and secure the necessary funding to build a new bridge that will last another 60 plus years.
“Now we have the money, we will of course resume our engagement with local residents and local stakeholders to make sure our plans are understood and don’t unnecessarily inconvenience them.
“I know these works will inevitably have an impact on local commuters and those using the A45, but we will do all we can to keep any disruption to a minimum.”
Work on the bridge was due to take place in 2018, according to original proposals from Solihull 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.
In January 2018, after no work had started, engineering contractor Balfour Beatty was ordered to review the repair designs to reduce closure time, prevent diversions and reduce costs.
In October 2018, the council told Meriden residents it had continued monitoring the condition of Fillongley Road Bridge, concluding significant work was required.
In November 2019 Council engineers submitted a bid to the Department for Transport’s Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund to support a full replacement of the bridge. The fund is a pot of government cash specifically for schemes which are “difficult to fund.”
Visit https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKSOLIHULL/subscriber/new?topic_id=UKSOLIHULL_184 to sign-up for Solihull Council’s Stay Connected Fillongley Bridge e-bulletin.