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Rail bridge repairs nearing the end
WORK to spruce up a historic city centre railway bridge should finally end this month – five months later than planned.
Repairs at the Worcester Foregate Street Bridge took longer than expected because the structure was so badly corroded. The £1.1m scheme by Network Rail was due to finish on August 31 last year but workmen found more corrosion than expected and a new timetable for the work had to be drawn up.
The work is due to be completed by the end of January followed by a phased withdrawal from the site when the scaffolding will be removed. Once the work on the bridge itself is completed a separate, £785,000 revamp of Worcester Foregate Street railway station can begin. This work by Worcestershire County Council includes the replacement of the existing 1970s canopies, automatic doors at both entrances, better cycle storage facilities, new customer service screens and a fresh coat of paint.
Network Rail project manager Jim Melling said: “The grade two listed structure at Foregate Street requires extensive work to return it to its former glory.
“We wish to restore its structural integrity and to reduce the need for further maintenance or refurbishment works to be undertaken in the near future.
“The benefit to Worcester of this work being completed is that the listed bridge will maintain its structural integrity for many years to come as we seek to preserve a great landmark for the city of Worcester.”
The company began work in June to remove paintwork and expose the metal underneath prior to repainting.
It was later found that additional work would be necessary to repair and replace steelwork sections which have suffered extensive corrosion.
Network Rail is also taking the opportunity to renew the bridge’s drainage and guttering systems and bond together fractures identified at previous inspections.
Mr Melling added: “Upon completion of the grit-blasting activities, it emerged that the corrosion of the structure was considerably more widespread than had been considered in the original inspection report.”
Jon Fraser, Worcestershire County Council's customer and community manager said: "We are working with Network Rail and continue to monitor the situation regarding their project being undertaken by contractors Murphy's. The priority is to ensure the safety of workers and rail users and our refurbishment project cannot start until this previous work is completed. However at this stage we do not expect any change to work starting in the Spring."
Plans to improve the station were approved by Worcester City Council’s planning committee last October despite councillors calling the scheme ‘dull, bland and uninspiring’.