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A historic road bridge on a busy route in Leicester has closed to through traffic today, until early 2023, while essential maintenance and repair works are carried out.

The Grade-II listed Abbey Corner Bridge, which spans the River Soar on Abbey Park Road, has closed to all traffic from today (Thursday, March 31). A detailed survey of the historic bridge, which dates back to 1878, has found evidence of corrosion in the cast iron structure and other issues which require extensive maintenance to ensure that the bridge can continue to be used safely by heavy traffic. 

Picture: Leicester City Council

Work to repair and strengthen the bridge is expected to take around 45 weeks to complete and will require the closure of Abbey Park Road to all through traffic.

Some residents have hit out online about the inconvenience and the disruption that the long closure will cause. 

However, Leicester Civic Society have jumped to Leicester City Council’s defence, pointing out that “although it means a long closure for Abbey Park Road, it preserves this remarkable structure for future generations.”

“It’s good to see the council spending the cash to repair it, rather than demolish it and replace it with a new structure,” said Stu Simmons, a Civic Society Committee Member.

“There comes a time with any old iron bridge that major work is necessary,” said another resident writing online.

“This is going to be done at the same time as other work to make to make Abbey Road fit for 21st century traffic needs.”

A well-signed short diversion route will be in place for the duration of the works. This will be via Abbey Lane, St Margaret’s Way, Burleys Way and Belgrave Gate, in both directions. Bus services will also be diverted, and motorists are advised to expect delays on the diversion route at busy times. Access will be maintained for residents and businesses on Abbey Park Road, and for people visiting Abbey Park, during the works.

All on street parking will suspended on Abbey Park Road for the duration of the works. However, Abbey Park car park will remain open.

Bridge maintenance and repairs have been programmed to take place during a major £7.5million revamp of Abbey Park Road. This will help avoid the need for further disruptive closures of the bridge and road for the foreseeable future.

“The ambitious revamp of Abbey Park Road will help change the way that people think about travelling on this busy route,” said Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor, who leads on environment and transport.

“The introduction of a new bike-friendly footbridge alongside the existing bridge will make this a much more appealing and safer route for all road users. “Schemes like this don’t come cheaply or without disruption. However, it is absolutely vital that we continue to invest in helping people to make the shift to cleaner, greener, healthier and cheaper modes of travelling around Leicester, not least because traffic is responsible for around a quarter of the city’s carbon emissions.”

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