After a two month closure, Marlow Bridge was re-opened at 10.00am on Friday 25th November 2016.
Buckinghamshire County Council Chairman Val Letheren cut the ribbon to celebrate the reopening. The Chairman then invited Town Mayor Bob Johnson to join her to become the first car to drive cross the iconic suspension bridge as a crowd of around 100 people watched.
The historic bridge had been closed to vehicles since Saturday 24th September 2016 when a 37 tonne lorry tried to cross. The bridge has a weight limit of just 3 tonnes.
‘This is a great day for Marlow residents and traders,’ said Val. ‘I’m so pleased we’ve been able to open the bridge in time for the Christmas shopping period.‘
Bob said: ‘I’m pleased that such extensive testing has shown our bridge is safe. Now we can get on and encourage people back to shop local in Marlow and make it a bumper Christmas for the town.‘
Mark Shaw, County Council Cabinet Member for Transport, said the inspection and testing regime had needed to be rigorous and thorough to ensure the safety and security of people who use it.
‘The bridge is very special to the people of Marlow and Bisham,‘ said Mark. ‘I’m very grateful for the utmost care our engineers have taken with their tests, which I know is exactly what people would expect of us.
I’m sure today’s opening is the best present we could have given the people of Marlow for Christmas.‘
The cost of the five weeks of inspection, testing and reporting is expected to run into tens of thousands of pounds, which Mark said would be covered by the insurers of the Lithuanian haulage company, Girteka, whose lorry crossed the bridge on Saturday 24th September 2016.
Engineers say the three-tonne weight restriction will remain and recommend replacement of one of the suspension hangers and pins supporting the approach road deck.
Simon Dando (pictured above), Transport for Buckinghamshire’s Contract Director, said the replacement and any other minor adjustments needed could be done later.
Simon said the engineers’ team was indebted to Marlow resident Robin Atkinson, a Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers and the Institution of Civil Engineers, for shortening the time taken on testing.
‘Robin had created a computer model of Marlow Bridge that showed how it behaved under certain conditions,‘ said Simon. ‘Access to this modelling helped us pinpoint the areas we needed to inspect and test.‘
Marlow Bridge was opened in 1832 however it was substantially rebuilt in the 1960s and strengthened with longitudinal girders, which, says Robin Atkinson, saved the bridge from more damaging stress than might otherwise have been caused by the 37 tonne lorry.