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Gaol Ferry Bridge connecting South Bristol to city centre to close for nine months

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One of two pedestrian bridges across the River Avon into the centre of Bristol is set to be closed for nine months until the end of the year for repair work, after Bristol City Council initially said it would only shut for 12 weeks.

Gaol Ferry Bridge, which connects Coronation Road in Southville with Cumberland Road and the Wapping Wharf development, is in need of vital repair work.

Repairs began in December 2021, although the bridge remained partially open, and it was expected to close in early January and reopen in late March.

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However, the council are now saying that the scale of the work means the bridge will close in April and remain shut until the end of the year.

The ornate suspension bridge was built in the 1930s to replace the ferry that crossed at that point from South Bristol to the city’s gaol – the ramp to the ferry departure point still exists and goes under Coronation Road next to St Paul’s Churchyard.

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But there are structural issues on the bridge which need fixing, including repairs to structural steelwork and replacing rotten timbers, while it is also going to be repainted.

Since December, repairs have been carried out on the the bridge to replace unsafe decking across its span of the bridge, and the new decking will be preserved and reused when the works begin in April.

The work is part of a multi-million-pound investment in the city’s harbourside, which will also see Vauxhall Bridge, Langton Street Bridge, Sparke Evans Park Bridge, Bedminster Bridge and Bath Bridge undergo repairs over the next five years.

Councillor Don Alexander, cabinet member for transport, said: “The historic Gaol Ferry Bridge is a popular route linking pedestrians and cyclists from south Bristol to the city centre. We need to carry out these essential works to ensure it remains safe to use now and for many years to come.

“This work is one part of a wider investment in the harbourside estate aimed at protecting the infrastructure and environment already in place and making the most of the area as a whole.

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“We propose to invest £15m of funding to ensure six bridges over the New Cut get the repairs and maintenance they require. This is about taking a long-term view of the work needed and making the investment now before issues arise.

“Our approach also supports our aim to get more people walking and cycling to ease congestion and reduce air pollution in the city. All six bridges are busy strategic routes into the city centre, used by thousands of people each day, and so it’s vital we maintain them properly.”

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