The current position
Finchingfield Bridge carries the B1053 over the village pond. It is an old bridge, approximately 200 years old in a deteriorating condition that needs to be dismantled and rebuilt.
Following some initial proposals shared by Essex Highways approximately two years ago, new design options have been explored in discussion with Finchingfield Parish Council, Braintree District Councillors and County Members.
Together, we aim to deliver a scheme that safeguards the bridge crossing for the future as well as protecting iconic views of the village. Key stakeholder groups will be invited to engage with us to help build plans to ensure that, if works go ahead, disruption is minimised.
Any scheme proposal will be subject to developing a detailed works programme, and to meeting the usual planning consents and other legal obligations.
The Parish Council and District and County Councillors have agreed that Essex Highways should start the necessary site investigations in order for a replacement bridge to be built. Subject to the necessary arrangements and permissions being in place, we anticipate site surveys being conducted during February 2019, which will inform future detailed design work.
Our future intention is to dismantle the existing structure and replace the bridge with one built in the same location with a very similar look to the existing bridge.
It is proposed the current width between the bridge walls will be maintained between new kerbs and a narrow hardened verge to offer some protection to the bridge parapets. These proposals will lead to a bridge that will be up to 1.5 metres wider overall, but maintaining the same road width, so that the bridge continues to act as a traffic calming feature.
There are no plans to include a footway as part of the scheme.
The option of installing temporary bridge has been discussed but it has been agreed that it would be less disruptive for the works to be carried out with a road closure with measures put in place to encourage HGVs to use a formal diversion route. We will also look to find other ways to reduce inconvenience. As mentioned above, key stakeholder groups will be invited to engage with us to help develop plans which minimise disruption if works go ahead.
We will continue to work closely with local councillors on the detailed proposals and will now start engaging other key stakeholders to ensure that when any works are taking place, we mitigate the inconvenience of them where practically possible.
Site investigation works needed to gather information for detailed design work referred to above will require a full road closure at the bridge for up to 5 days. We currently anticipate these works will be undertaken over the half term period in February (week commencing 18 February 2019), subject to permission being in place. This work will be necessary to allow us to gather essential technical information from trial holes and bore holes above the bridge and work underneath the structure, and subject to agreement within the watercourse.
Dates are provisional as they are subject to our legal obligations being met and weather being suitable to carry out the investigations. We will confirm in advance the traffic management arrangements that are needed to support the works.
Any planned closures will be advertised in advance and a local diversion route will be available for pedestrians while a formal signed diversion route will be in place for vehicles via Great Sampford, Hempstead and Steeple Bumpstead.
We understand you may have many further questions about the proposed scheme. Once we have concluded the necessary on-site technical investigations we will be in a better position to provide more detailed information.
With respect to the timing for reconstruction works, whilst every effort will be made to keep the programme of Summer 2019, this is subject to all the necessary permissions and work programme being in place. This timeline is likely to be adjusted due to the delay in progressing investigation works
Our intention is to keep local residents and businesses informed of progress and issue letters at key points in the process leading up to any bridge construction works. We also intend to post updates on this webpage as well as on social media (please follow @essexhighways on twitter).
The Parish Council and local councillors will also be provided updates they can pass on too.
We plan to hold an informal drop in session locally to provide an opportunity for interested parties to view and discuss the proposals during their development. Details will be confirmed and communicated in advance.