By Gary Smee Wednesday 24 October 2012 Updated: 01/11 13:47
THE FINAL seal of approval has been given to Evesham's new Abbey Bridge and Viaduct after county council planners gave it the green light.
The proposals went before the planning and regulatory committee on Tuesday (October 23) and members unanimously approved it.
It means preparatory work will now begin on-site early next month but no alterations to traffic or lane closures will be put in place until after the festive period to help the town's traders.
A £200,000 package has also been put together by Worcestershire County Council, Wychavon District Council and Evesham Market Town Partnership to promote the town, which includes a loyalty card scheme, car-parking discounts and an 18-month PR campaign.
The work is expected to take a year and the bridge will only close fully to traffic for a ten-week period next summer when vehicles will be re-directed through the town centre.
Two-way traffic will be maintained at all other times and the link will also remain open to pedestrians, cyclists and people using mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
The project is being carried out by contractors Hochtief Construction, which has vast experience in this field and a portfolio of work that includes the replacement of Paddington Bridge, London, and the Stratford Bridge that links the Olympic Park to the Stratford City development.
Coun Alwyn Davies, chairman of the county council's planning and regulatory committee, said: "This application is very welcome and much-needed for Evesham. We are pleased to support it.
"The new bridge design is attractive and fits in with the feel of the local area."
An extensive package of measures will be in place during the whole project to cut disruption as much as possible. This includes extensive signage on all major routes, including the A46, into Evesham extending as far back as Junction Six of the M5 to promote alternative routes for motorists, residents and visitors.
In addition to the bridge being replaced permission was also given for an upgrade to the signal system at the junction of Abbey Road/Pershore Road/Waterside and Cheltenham Road.
Coun John Smith OBE, county councillor for Evesham North West and in charge of highways and transport, said he was pleased it had got the nod from planners.
"Replacing this structure is massively important for the local economy," he added. I'd like to encourage everyone to continue to support traders in the town whilst this work is carried out.
"The early stages of the work, which will start very shortly, are mostly preparatory in nature so there will be no change at all to the road layout until after the busy Christmas trading period."
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