Finally! Wellingborough bridge weeks away from opening

It's been more than two years since it was demolished

The Irthlingborough Road bridge is set to finally re-open.
The Irthlingborough Road bridge is set to finally re-open.

A bridge connecting a Wellingborough trading estate and the rest of the town is set to finally re-open after more than two years of misery.

Businesses on the Leyland Trading Estate were left furious when Network Rail said the Irthlingborough Road bridge, which was demolished in 2018 as part of rail electrification works, would not open in April 2019 as promised and that they would instead open a new bridge somewhere else a year later.

It left firms facing a 4.9 mile diversion but, after a campaign from the businesses and MPs, rail bosses U-turned and decided they would rebuild the original bridge at a raised height.

The road remains closed for now.

And a Network Rail spokesman has now confirmed that the bridge will open by the end of the year after its planned opening was delayed by Covid-19 and bad weather.

Paul Cousens is manager at family-run Wellingborough Tyres, who have been on the estate for more than 30 years and were one of the leading firms in the campaign for the bridge rebuild.

He said: "The bridge is finished. It's done but they are waiting for someone to sign it off.

"It's been two years and still we are waiting. I don't see why is isn't open now.

"I'll believe it's open when I see it and drive over it. It will make a huge difference to us when it's open."

Businesses were left counting the cost by the diversion, which put some customers off visiting and added extra fuel and labour to other firms' budgets.

The diversion was reduced to 2.1 miles when Route 4 opened last year as part of the huge Stanton Cross development, but in recent weeks those leaving the estate at rush hour have faced further lengthy delays because of temporary traffic lights near Elsden Road.

When the Irthlingborough Road bridge finally re-opens journey times to and from the estate will be reduced dramatically.

A scaffold bridge for pedestrians and cyclists was erected over the railway line at Irthlingborough Road but was closed for social distancing reasons when the Covid-19 pandemic started this year.

Network Rail's community relations manager, Denise Thompson, told those nearby that it will be removed between 6pm on Christmas Eve and 3am on December 27.

In a letter, she said: "We’d like to thank you for the patience you have shown throughout the year and particularly over Christmas."