Commuters are being urged to allow extra time for their journey along the Upton Bypass in the New Year while Dorset County Council builds bridge protection barriers.
At the moment the piers (legs) of the A350 overbridges and Brickworks Bridge are vulnerable to severe damage if a large vehicle on the Upton Bypass were to hit them, so work will get underway on Monday 16 January to replace the existing steel barriers with higher concrete ones.
It will take around 16 weeks for Dorset Highways to complete the work, which includes; building four bridge protection barriers, widening both carriageways under the A350 overbridges, improving drainage on the eastbound carriageway and replacing some of the A350 overbridge ‘coping units’ – a small ledge that hangs over the A35 which carries rain water away from the structure of the bridge to protect it from water damage.
Councillor Peter Finney, Dorset County Council Cabinet member for environment, infrastructure and highways, said: “We’ve split the overall scheme of work – to install eight concrete barriers – into two phases so that we minimise the disruption to drivers and to ensure the work doesn’t take place during the busy summer months. But it does mean we’ll have to return in January 2018 with a similar set of work.
“This year we will be building protection barriers for the central piers of the bridges and carrying out some carriageway realignment in preparation for further work next year.”
Drivers are being urged to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys along the Upton Bypass from 16 January as the dual carriageway will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
There will also be a temporary 30mph speed limit on the A35 eastbound – between Baker’s Arms Roundabout and the junction for the Upton Country Park – and on the A35 westbound – from the Upton Country Park slip road until after the roadworks area.
Councillor Finney continued: “We’re starting work at a time of year that typically has the lowest traffic flows, but our work will have an impact on journey times and we’re asking drivers to allow extra time for their journey to ensure they reach their destination on time.”
This work is part of Dorset County Council’s ongoing programme – following a change in national standards around eight years ago – of protecting bridge piers that could be demolished if they were hit by a big vehicle.