Frustration over the closure of Burton's St Peter's Bridge is showing no signs of subsiding after two weeks of being closed. Social media has been awash with messages from many fed-up residents angry that the work will take three months to complete, with the bridge closed throughout.
Some people have say it is a case of 'put up and shut up' because the work has to be dne. Whatever people's views the closure has created a huge number of comments, especially on the Burton Mail's website and Facebook page.
The bridge has closed for vital repair work costing £6.1 million to replace rusted bearings. If it is not done it, it will mean a weight restriction would have to be imposed on the bridge, which is a main route into and out of town.
Here we take a look at some of the reaction to the chaos endured so far this month.
Business owner Katie Gooding is one of many who has had to sit in traffic on a daily basis trying to get into Burton town centre.
She said: "I am currently sat in traffic after coming from Midway to Burton, never have I ever seen it so bad. I feel for a lot of parents doing the school runs and then having to get to work afterwards. Owning a business in Burton, whoever’s idea it was to close the bridge at this time of year has a lot to answer for."
Gail Jones is another business owner who is feeling the impact. She said she was "really fed up" with people telling others to "stop moaning".
She said: "If you put all of your life savings and 10 years work into making a good local business, the council comes along and agrees to the necessary work that is fine but three months when they could work 24/7 to halve the time so we can salvage what is left of our businesses is very worrying."
June King said the disruption faced last week was to be expected after children returned to school.
She wrote: "The traffic is shocking at any time of the year when the schools are open so now it is doubly so."
Roy Allen offered a solution to those on the school run, saying: "It is an age old argument I know but why are so many cars taking kids to school. I walked the two miles to my school every day, rain or shine."
Natalie Martin is one of those getting annoyed at sitting in traffic. She said: "It usually takes me 10 minutes to get into Burton. Having to be in college for a set time every day makes sitting in traffic for 20 minutes so frustrating.
Eleanor King wrote: "We all think it is chaos now, let’s wait until they shut the old bridge and the only route is one lane in and one lane out. At least the old bridge has two lanes each way. Getting through town has been tough the last few days but not unbearable."
Evelyn Bradley said the town looked "eerie" as some businesses were feeling the pinch following the closure.
She wrote: "I went to Tesco yesterday afternoon and for the first time ever I was the only car driving down by Domino’s pizza. It really shocked me it was so eerie!! Tesco car park and store were virtually empty."
Paul Hackett said he found it "astounding" that the council had not had the money to repair the bridge for years.
He said: "Surely the work time could be cut in half by working throughout the night and this way the good people of Burton would only be inconvenienced for half the time?"
Why does the work need to take place?
St Peter's Bridge and Burton Bridge provide main routes into Burton town centre carrying on average 24,000 vehicles a day each. Over the years the bearings on St Peter's Bridge – which allow movement of the bridge as traffic travels over it – have worn and need replacing.
Patch and repair work would mean ongoing works sporadically over years, causing significant disruption and affecting the town’s economy. Replacing bearings on St Peter's Bridge and carrying our major repairs on Burton Bridge as part of one programme will strengthen and protect the bridges for decades.
If work is not carried out, a weight limit would need to be introduced on St Peter's Bridge in 2019, with a full permanent closure in 2024. Staffordshire County Council have said that this is not an option.
The St Peter's Bridge repairs will be completed by the end of November 2017.
St Peter’s Bridge – fast facts
- Construction of St Peter's Bridge began in 1983 and it was officially opened in 1985.
- The bridge is 800 metres long.
- Each day 24,000 vehicles pass across the bridge.
- Along the road over St Peter's Bridge there are five structures – Pumphouse Viaduct, flood relief culverts, Stapenhill Underpass, St Peter's Bridge and St Peter's footbridge. Maintenance will be carried out on all five structures.
- There are 80 bearings in total supporting Pumphouse Viaduct and St Peter's Bridge to allow the bridge's decks to move relative to their supports. The bridge decks were designed to move under traffic loading and also expand and contract given variations in temperature. The multiple types of bearing used have different functions to allow movement and rotation in specific directions. The sliding face of bearings includes a stainless steel polished surface and a low friction surface where movement occurs. Many of the original bearings are now worn and distorted and need replacement. The new bearings will be made from higher grade materials to reduce the need for future maintenance.
- There are joints between the different sections of the bridge deck. These joints allow the sections of deck to move without affecting the road surfacing, preventing water leaking onto the bearings beneath. Many of the original joints now need replacing with modern equivalents.
- Bridge decks have a waterproofing membrane beneath the road surfacing and above the concrete bridge deck. This membrane prevents surface water soaking through the concrete reinforcement and allowing rusting to develop. As a result of heavy traffic the road surface and waterproofing beneath have failed and become distorted. This scheme is the most efficient way to co-ordinate the replacement of surfacing and waterproofing.