Bath City Council has been urged to complete repair work on the A36 Cleveland Bridge as soon as possible after a diversion was put in place for trucks that adds 50 miles to a driver’s journey.
The council said a temporary 18-tonne weight restriction would be in place from January “as a precautionary measure”, even though essential maintenance work won’t start until later in 2020.
The FTA said the HGV ban must be as brief as possible because many logistics businesses rely on the strategically important route.
Chris Yarsley, FTA policy manager said: “We are concerned that removing the access which the bridge provides will be detrimental to the wider local economy. This is due to the delays a planned detour will bring to those charged with delivering for Bath, who will be faced with significantly higher costs and longer journey times.
“FTA is particularly concerned to see the diversion routes in place for heavier vehicles – one pathway would increase a driver’s journey by more than 50 miles using the A350 – adding significant costs and delays.”
Councillor Neil Butters, joint cabinet member for Transport said: “The repairs to Cleveland Bridge will require one of the most significant road maintenance projects the council has undertaken for many years and because of this we are seeking the help of the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.”
He added: “We are already working with stakeholders including businesses and other partners to plan how best to manage the disruption that we know is inevitable when we undertake these essential improvements.
“We apologise for the inconvenience that will be caused by the weight restriction coming into force, but hope that drivers of heavy vehicles will understand that we have to implement this measure to allow the bridge to be used as a main route in future.”
Cleveland Bridge was originally constructed in 1826 for horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians, but now carries 17,000 vehicles a day including more than 600 HGVs.