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Published on : Friday, July 8, 2016
The new Wantage Road bridge has officially opened to motorists, pedestrians and cyclists as part of the project to electrify the Great Western Mainline.The bridge, which carries the road that connects Grove and Wantage, was opened at 9.30am on Monday, 4 July. The new bridge has been built slightly higher than its predecessor to allow room for rail electrification infrastructure to run beneath it.
The electrification of the Great Western Mainline will mean faster, greener and more reliable journeys for the tens of thousands of passengers using the railway, as well as less noise and cleaner air for those who live close to the railway line. It will also help stimulate economic growth across the region by better connecting towns and cities.
Construction was initially held up by the discovery of 310 great crested newts in the vicinity of the bridge. Three ponds were bult to accommodate the protected newts before the team was able to commence construction on the new bridge in July 2015, whilst keeping traffic flowing over the old bridge.
Network Rail will start demolishing the old bridge later this year and expect to have the site fully cleared by the end of 2016. Engineers worked carefully to ensure vital utilities – including electricity, gas, fibre-optics and water – buried in the structure were diverted from the old bridge into the new and remained undisrupted.
Network Rail’s regional director of infrastructure projects, Robbie Burns, said: “The new bridge has been raised as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to provide the extra headroom needed for the future electrification of the railway, which will ensure faster, greener and more reliable journeys for passengers in the future.
“We have worked hard over the last 15 months to install a new bridge which will accommodate the new fleet of electric trains and will also be better able to cope with the demands of modern road and rail traffic. The new bridge also provides improved access for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as better lighting.
“We would like to thank Grove Parish Council, Wantage Town Council and members of the public for their understanding while we completed this essential upgrade work.”