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Updated: Walnut Bridge Installation – Phase 1 Nearing Completion

Published on: 26 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 30 Nov, 2021

The new Walnut Bridge being lifted into position in September. The older bridge can be seen behind. Photo by Arcadis

Phase 1 of the New Walnut Bridge route into our town centre is to be completed on December 3, Guildford Borough Council has announced.

The old bridge will be removed on December 1. The towpath is currently open to the public but access to the route will be temporarily closed from November 29 to December 2, while preparations are made for the new bridge to be used for the first time. During this period, the public will be able to enter the town via Walnut Tree Close and Bridge Street.

Cllr John Rigg

Lead councillor for Major Projects, Cllr John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “While this is a major milestone in the project there is still much to do. The new bridge will be in but work on a ramp to make it accessible will come next. The route through Bedford Wharf Plaza will be a protected walkway through a building site while we prepare the area and then start work on landscaping.

“Once completed in 2022, the route using the new bridge will be a much safer and pleasant route from the station to our town centre.”

Location of Walnut Bridge – Google Maps

Yesterday (November 29) Cllr Rigg added, in answer to further questions from The Dragon: “The works are slightly behind the original timeline by about one month. As the west bank was excavated and the contractor prepared the foundations they encountered various problems underground that required additional work.

“The original work timetable has now been adjusted. This has included re-scheduling road closures that were in place to deliver plant and materials to the site necessary to create a safer working area.

“There have been some costs because of these delays, but they are accounted for in the overall project budget. The budget has not been increased.”

The River Wey will also be closed tomorrow (December 1) between Dapdune Wharf and Millmead Lock to allow the work to be completed. GBC has asked the public to look out for signage in the area if they are using the River Wey and follow instructions of site staff.

Volker Laser is the main contractor for the project. Work will begin on the new steps and ramp in December.

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

The Guildford Greenbelt Group leader at GBC, Ramsey Nagaty, who was against the proposal for the new bridge when it was made in 2016, said: “The new bridge has been a contentious project initiated by the previous Conservative administration to a point of no return.

“I took part in a site visit where it was pointed out that the supports for the main steel beam of the old bridge were deteriorating and that there were safety issues. We were aware of the old bridge being in need of upgrading with a new surface and suitable lighting but were advised it was not practical to proceed in upgrading the present bridge.

“But I was not presented with technical reports to justify the claims as to the structural condition. Caroline Reeves was clearly in favour of proceeding with the new bridge and substantial fees had already been paid for consultancy work in its design.

“GGG felt that it would have been far better to incorporate a new bridge as the railway station and Solum development proceeded so that the route into town was integrated with the new station and led straight from the new station complex into town. Instead, we are presented with a scheme that replaces the old bridge with a pedestrian and cycle route that will involve coming down from the station and crossing Walnut Tree Close Road.

“It is imperative that the pedestrian and cycle access to the town centre is safe and away from the heavily polluted gyratory road network.  The footpath along Bridge Street (the A322) is not wide enough for the current use by pedestrians. The new bridge will have cycling and pedestrian mixed-use and I would prefer some greater separation.

“Whether the new bridge will become the route of choice remains to be seen and can only be evaluated once the landscaping of the Bedford Wharf Plaza is completed.

“This project has cost GBC residents a substantial sum so it is hoped it will be greatly used and of benefit.”

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Responses to Updated: Walnut Bridge Installation – Phase 1 Nearing Completion

  1. M Smith Reply

    November 26, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    Can we have an explanation as to why this is taking so long? It’s only a footbridge after all, not exactly a major civil engineering project. The Royal Engineers could have it up over a weekend.

    Editor’s comment: Our unanswered questions about the bridge project have been resubmitted to GBC.

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