Temporary traffic lights have been installed on a bridge on the A379 in Devon after investigations revealed that the some of its foundations were constructed differently from design records.
Investigation work on Shaldon Bridge, which carries the A379 over the River Teign and was opened in 1929, has shown that a number of the bridge piers are supported on timber piles, which are suffering deterioration, rather than concrete piles.
The traffic signals have reduced the bridge to one lane at the Teignmouth end of the bridge, where further timber piles have been identified on the deep water supports of the bridge. Devon County Council has introduced the lights in order to reduce the traffic load on the bridge while investigations continue.
These traffic lights are in addition to the 3t weight restriction already in place during the investigation work.
The council has warned that if further timber piles are discovered and found to be in a poor condition, there is a possibility that the bridge may have to be completely closed to all traffic, including pedestrians.
Devon County Council cabinet member for highway management Stuart Hughes said: “It has become apparent during these investigative surveys that the bridge has not been constructed as intended by engineers in 1929 and what has been discovered on site does not match the construction drawings. Public safety is of paramount importance which is why traffic lights have now been introduced, as well as the weight restriction.
“We could be faced with some large scale civil engineering works to this strategically significant bridge to either strengthen or replace whole sections of the multi-span structure. Unfortunately, whatever work is needed will not be a quick fix.
“In the mean-time, our engineers are continuing to assess if the structure can remain open with the current restrictions or if a full closure will be required. We are well aware of the impacts a closure would have on the local community and the County Council is committed to doing all it can to return the bridge to full use – but hopefully everyone will understand that public safety is our priority.”