Half-term traffic chaos fears as Portsmouth railway bridge is replaced
WARNINGS have been issued by traffic bosses as key roads in the city centre will be shut while an ageing rail bridge is replaced by Network Rail.
Delays are expected for people heading to Gunwharf Quays over February half term when Burnaby Road and Park Road will be closed.
Portsmouth City Council has told drivers to expect delays and urged people to use the Park and Ride.
Network Rail is spending £2.7m replacing the current 142-year-old bridge at the top of Burnaby Road as it is no longer ‘strong enough’.
Freight traffic has already been restricted on the bridge.
Councillor Simon Bosher, traffic and transportation cabinet member at the council, said: ‘We have been working closely with Network Rail to plan for the bridge replacement works and the impact this will have on road users and pedestrians. ‘
He said St George’s Road is the only suitable alternative route and traffic management measures will be in place to manage ‘the flow in to and out of Gunwharf as best as the network will allow’.
He added: ‘Some delays are inevitable at specific times of the day, but we will continue to monitor the network.’
Access to University of Portsmouth buildings will also be affected in the closures, which starts at 1.15am on February 12 and ends at 6am on February 17.
Buses will replace trains and run every 10 minutes from 6am to 11.20pm during the closures, while Portsmouth Harbour station remains open for ferry users.
Stuart Kistruck, of Network Rail, said: ‘This crossing is a very important part of our network – 113,000 trains pass over it every year carrying 4 million passengers.
‘After such heavy traffic over such a long period of time, the old bridge is not strong enough.’
Shoppers have spoken of their concerns about the delays.
Carol Clannachan, 73, of Goodwood Close, Cowplain said: ‘There’s always hold-ups around here anyway, so it’s going to be hell for everybody getting in and out. And I should imagine Gunwharf is going to suffer.
It’s going to cause problems for the dockyard and a problem for Gunwharf Quays.
‘Things are already very bad. If you’re then cut off the main roads coming through it’s going to be a problem. But the only problem is if the bridge is dangerous, you’ve got to do it some time. It will cause an awful lot of headache and problems for people working here.’
Sylvain Wear, 21, of St Augustine Road in Southsea added: ‘As for the Portsmouth Harbour being cut off, that’s fine because Portsmouth and Southsea’s just a short walk away, anyway. As for traffic, as long as the diversion will still lead you to wherever you need to go, that shouldn’t be a problem.’
Saffron Shakespeares, 18 of Furze Lane in Milton said: ‘It will quite drastically affect trying to get anywhere. Time-wise, it’ll obviously take a lot of time to get to lectures and a bit of going out of the way.
‘I suppose if it’s needed then there’s not much they can do about it. Obviously, it has to be done.’
Julia Stewart, 21 from London commutes to the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘A lot of people are going to be hugely inconvenienced.
‘There wil be huge inconvenience but long-term benefits.’
Additional reporting by Kassandra Underwood and Lloyd Oughton.