Marlow Bridge reopens with a civic drive

  |  Published: Nov 25th 2016

The winter sun shone this morning (Friday November 25) on the reopening of Marlow Bridge, after a two-month closure, with the snip of a ribbon and a chauffeured drive for the Mayor.

In the driving seat was Buckinghamshire County Council Chairman Val Letheren, who had just cut the ribbon to celebrate the reopening.

Watched by a crowd of around 100, the Chairman then invited Town Mayor Bob Johnson, to join her to become the first car to drive cross the iconinc suspension bridge since September 24 when it was shut to traffic after a 37-tonne lorry tried to cross it.

'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 September 24. 
 
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, 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, opened in 1832, 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.

Marlow Bridge reopening day - Chairman Val Letheren and Mayor Bob Johnson on the bridge
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Chairman Val Letheren and Mayor Bob Johnson on the bridge
Marlow Bridge reopening day - County Councillor Richard Scott, Town Mayor Bob Johnson, BCC Chairman Val Letheren, Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw ready to cut the ribbon
Marlow Bridge reopening day - County Councillor Richard Scott, Town Mayor Bob Johnson, BCC Chairman Val Letheren, Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw ready to cut the ribbon
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Chairman Val Letheren and Town Mayor Bob Johnson ready to be the first to cross following reopening
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Chairman Val Letheren and Town Mayor Bob Johnson ready to be the first to cross following reopening
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Chairman Val Letheren and Mayor Bob Johnson drive through first archway
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Chairman Val Letheren and Mayor Bob Johnson drive through first archway
Marlow Bridge reopening day - classic Morris Minor van was the first to follow the Chairman's car across reopened bridge
Marlow Bridge reopening day - classic Morris Minor van was the first to follow the Chairman's car across reopened bridge
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Robin Atkinson (L) with Contracts Director Simon Dando
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Robin Atkinson (L) with Contracts Director Simon Dando
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Transport for Buckinghamshire engineering team that oversaw the rigorous inspection and testing regime
Marlow Bridge reopening day - Transport for Buckinghamshire engineering team that oversaw the rigorous inspection and testing regime
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