The first stage of repairs will begin from this week to repair the Iron Tram Bridge near Robertstown – which will see the Ancient Monument sympathetically restored off site and then reinstalled next year.
The bridge was in a poor condition before Storm Dennis, and received further damage during the unprecedented weather and subsequent storm events in February 2020. Security fencing has been placed around the structure and its surrounding area, while its Public Right of Way over the river remains closed.
Aware of the bridge’s cultural and historical significance, the Council has worked with external consultants to design a sympathetic restoration scheme – for which Scheduled Monument consent was received from Cadw this year.
In August, the Council appointed a contractor (Walters Ltd) and announced a provisional timeline, which is subject to change. The first stage (up to November) includes partial demolition at the top of the bridge abutments, to allow removal of the main bridge beams and scour repairs to the abutments.
This will be followed by repairs to the main bridge beams off site, with no presence on site at the bridge’s location (up to spring 2022). The final stage will include the reinstallation of the bridge and abutments, and the reopening of the Public Right of Way across the structure (summer 2022).
Work on stage one of the timeline will start in the week commencing Monday, September 27, pending fair weather and the river levels remaining low.
To safely continue work from Monday, October 4, pedestrians using the adjacent shared footpath and cycleway may experience minor delays while accessing the route. They will be directed by a banksman located at the site.
From Friday, October 15, the adjacent cycleway will be closed for a period of around one month, to allow the safe removal of the bridge beams and abutment repairs. An alternative route for pedestrians and cyclists will be signposted via Mill Street, Bell Street and Meirion Street.
The route will then be reopened following the removal of the bridge, as the repair work to the structure takes place away from the site (stage two of the plan). The route will remain open for the upcoming months until the bridge is ready to be returned and reinstalled during 2022 (stage three).
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways and Transportation, said: “I’m pleased that we’ve reached a major landmark in delivering this complex repair scheme to the Iron Tram Bridge, with work towards the first stage of repairs getting underway this week. It has followed close working with key stakeholders, including Cadw, to ensure we get this restoration right.
“In order to carry out the work, there will be some unavoidable disruption over the coming weeks to users of the shared footpath near to the bridge. This includes minor delays next week, and then a full closure from October 15 in order to safely proceed with key aspects of the work – including removal of the main bridge beams. Once complete, the route will then reopen until next year, as the bridge repairs are carried out off site due to their specialist nature.
“Maintaining structures remains a priority for the Council, which is responsible for more than 1,500 bridges, culverts and walls across Rhondda Cynon Taf. Significant funding for this was allocated in the £25.025m Highways Capital Programme for 2021/22, while Cabinet last week agreed additional one-off allocations of £500,000 each to Highways and Parks structures. This is on top of the major funding for Storm Dennis infrastructure repairs in communities.
“The Council will keep residents up to date with the ongoing progress with the Iron Tram Bridge restoration over the coming weeks and months, as we work hard to repair and restore this Ancient Monument.”