Bideford bridge repairs completed

REPAIRS to the historic Bideford Longbridge will be completed next week. Devon County Council s �2.1 million restoration of the Grade One Listed structure has been a mammoth undertaking and the finished result will be unveiled over the coming weeks as sca

REPAIRS to the historic Bideford Longbridge will be completed next week.

Devon County Council's �2.1 million restoration of the Grade One Listed structure has been a mammoth undertaking and the finished result will be unveiled over the coming weeks as scaffolding is gradually removed. Work on the local landmark has been ongoing since September last year and will preserve and maintain the current form of the local landmark for at least another 60 years.

Repairs have focused mainly on the reinforced concrete sections added to the 800-year-old structure in the 1920s to carry the footpaths, which had been gradually deteriorating over the years.

Following detailed inspections two years ago part of the south-side footpath was closed as a safety precaution and temporary supports were installed to the concrete edge beams on two weakened spans.


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The inspections concluded that unless repaired, the bridge could eventually be closed.

Cracked and crumbling concrete has been removed and exposed steel beams and reinforcements have been cleaned and repaired with modern high strength mortars. In some areas, concrete has been sprayed on to the supporting beams for added protection.

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A key feature of the scheme has been the installation of a cathodic protection system, which passes a small electrical current through the bridge concrete and steel. This stops the chemical rusting process and increases the life expectancy of the repairs.

The cathodic protection system on Bideford Longbridge is one of the largest and most complex of its kind in the country, with more than 4,500 titanium electrical anodes tubes being installed into the concrete beams along with nearly 1,000 square metres of titanium mesh. There are also more than 18 miles of cable in various sections of the bridge to control the protection system and its performance can be monitored from County Hall in Exeter.

The final commissioning of the cathodic protection system will be ongoing after the end of this month.

The scheme has taken three months longer than anticipated.

The county council says this has been due to last winter's severe weather and additional unforeseen problems which have arisen as the scheme progressed. More areas of concrete than anticipated were found to be in a poor condition and an unusual form of rust called magnetite was also discovered on some steel beams, which had to be removed.

The scheme has also allowed the opportunity for damaged sections of the masonry bridge parapet to be repaired, new street lighting to be installed and for the road and footways to be resurfaced.

The three tonne weight restriction imposed in 2002 remains in place on the bridge.

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