Route between Thrapston and Islip to be closed for six weeks for start of bridge repairs
Repair and strengthening works are required for the Nine Arches Bridge which goes over the River Nene
A main road linking two communities on opposite sides of the River Nene will be out of use for six weeks as bridge repairs get underway next month.
Repair and strengthening works on the part-medieval Nine Arches Bridge in Thrapston over the River Nene on Bridge Street/Kettering Road are set to take place between February and July 2021, lasting about five months.
The first stage of the works will take place under the main navigation arch that will require a six-week road closure, with the navigation also closed to river traffic.
Grade II listed, the mostly limestone Nine Arches Bridge has medieval origins and was partly rebuilt and widened in the mid to late 18th Century and restored in the intervening years.
Cllr Jason Smithers, portfolio holder for highways at Northamptonshire County Council, said: "We are aware that Thrapston Bridge is a key access point to the town and the range of businesses and services on offer.
"It is also a valuable heritage asset, which we are seeking to preserve.
"The last time work was carried out on the bridge we were repairing the parapets but essential works are now required underneath the bridge arches to ensure it is strong enough to carry vehicles.
"These strengthening works will ensure the bridge can continue to be used by traffic accessing the town centre.
"In order to carry out the works, it is necessary to close the road to traffic for six weeks.
"We have sought to keep this closure as short as possible to reduce inconvenience to residents and visitors to Thrapston.
"We are using specialist contractors and working closely with heritage officers at East Northants District Council to ensure we protect and preserve the historic importance of this beautiful medieval bridge.
"The majority of the work will be carried out from below the bridge, therefore we are working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure we complete the work before the boating season officially starts on April 1."
The navigation channel beneath the bridge will also be temporarily closed to allow the specialist structures team to complete their work safely.
The work float (pontoon) will be removed at the end of the day and moored overnight at the adjacent mooring.
Specialist contractors will carry out structural repairs and arch strengthening to all nine arches and once the strengthening scheme has been completed, the road over the bridge will be resurfaced.
Currently, adjacent land is saturated and river levels are high and works could be affected by bad weather.
Severe weather or flood alerts would mean that the pontoons being used to carry out these essential repairs would need to be removed and would stop works.
This would be necessary to ensure nothing affects the flow of the water, which would increase the risk of flooding.
Depending on the stage of works, this would mean the road might remain closed for a longer period.
Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to cross the river using the separate footbridge, as works will not affect this. Cyclists will be asked to dismount.
Cllr Smithers added: "Starting works now means that we mitigate disruption to both users of the road and the navigation channel.
"Options have been considered including a weight restriction to allow Bridge Street/Kettering Road to remain open.
"However, a decision has been made that the most efficient and safest way to carry out the first stage of works is with a road closure.
"This means the main works to repair the historic structure can be completed quickly with the bridge re-opening to traffic."
Following the six-week road closure and works to the main navigation arch of the bridge, Northamptonshire Highways will continue their work on the other arches to repair and strengthen - work will take place under the bridge and not affect the road.
Bridge Street over the river will be closed at Nine Arches Way from the east and Kettering Road over the bridge from the west will be closed at Chapel Hill Monday, February 15, to Friday March, 26.
Access to properties will be maintained during the closure.
During the closure, a diversion has been agreed with Highways England to use the A14 and traffic should access Thrapston at Junction 13.
Drivers will need to use A14 Junction 13 from both east and west directions to access the town.
There will be no vehicle access into Thrapston from the west through Islip, junction 12 of the A14 or from the A6116 from Corby.
From Corby and the A6116 go straight across the roundabout where you would normally turn left into Islip and Thrapston. Join the A14 at Junction 12 and then take the exit at Junction 13.
Access from the A605 from Peterborough, Oundle and the A1 will be as normal, as will the route using the A45 from Rushden, Irthlingborough, Raunds, Wellingborough, Earls Barton and Northampton.