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New measures to prevent heavier vehicles exceeding three-tonne limit on Exeter’s historic Iron Bridge

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New measures are being introduced this week to re-enforce the three-tonne weight restriction to vehicles using Exeter’s iconic Iron Bridge.

The structure of the Grade II-listed cast iron bridge, built in 1835, is routinely assessed but in the latest assessment, highways officers monitoring traffic over a four hour period, reported in excess of 20 vehicles using the bridge that were ‘thought to be well over three tonnes in weight.’

Traffic is restricted to travelling in one-direction over the bridge in the direction of St David’s hill, and the width of the road is restricted to 1.8 metres to prevent larger, heavier vehicles from using the bridge.

But bollards on the raised curbs on either side are 2.5 metres apart, and larger vehicles were seen during the monitoring exercise mounting the curbs to squeeze between them.

So on Thursday, we will be placing two large concrete blocks alongside the bollards as a temporary measure, to prevent vehicles from being able to mount the curb, and to re-enforce the three tonne weight restriction.  We are considering other longer term solutions in keeping with the history and conservation of the bridge.

The 1.8 metre width of the road will remain unchanged.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for highway maintenance, said:

“Over a period of four hours, our officers saw in excess of 20 drivers of large vans and pick-up trucks mounting the curb in order to squeeze between the bollards.

“It’s difficult to know their precise weight without knowing what they were carrying, but by the size of the vehicles, they were thought to be well over three tonnes in weight.

“Structural engineers routinely assess the strength of the historic iron bridge, and while we are confident that it can still be used for vehicles up to three tonnes in weight, we cannot guarantee that it is safe for vehicles heavier than that.

“We want to keep the bridge open to traffic, but we must enforce the weight restriction.  This is effectively the final step we can take before having to close the bridge to all vehicles.”