Construction of new bridge to replace Alma Bridge in Sidmouth
Work on a new footbridge near the mouth of the River Sid started at the end of August 2019.
The new structure will replace the historic Alma Bridge and will be around 40 metres upstream from the existing crossing.
Mac Plant Construction Ltd has been appointed by Devon County Council as the contractor for the scheme.
It is anticipated that the project will be constructed in one phase.
The standard working hours for all construction work will be from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.
Entry into the site is permitted prior to 8am, however noisy activities will not commence before 8am.
Continuous 24‐hour activities are not expected to be needed and there will be no Sunday or bank holiday working unless otherwise agreed in advance with Sidmouth Town Council, East Devon District Council and Devon County Council.
Additional signing will be in place warning motorists of the temporary pedestrian route and the need to be aware of additional pedestrians in the area for the duration of the closure.
The scheme compound, where all building materials, packing materials and waste will be stored during construction, will be located on the ‘Ham’. The car park at the rear of the swimming pool on Ham Lane will be used to provide access off the highway into the compound. Eight spaces in the car park are being reserved for site parking, the rest will remain open to the public. Site offices will be located on the Ham.
A designated site crossing point will be introduced between the car park and the Ham compound to maintain public access along the footpath. To secure the site, boundary fencing will be installed around the works area on the Ham. Additional fencing will be erected and taken down around hazardous or restricted areas of the site as required. This will be monitored and maintained on a regular basis to ensure public safety and a safe working environment.
During construction of the new structure, the existing Alma Bridge will be closed, with a signed inland diversion route via Mill Street. Restricted beach access and emergency access will be retained via a gate and the steps down to the beach maintained by East Devon District Council.
On completion of the new bridge, the public right of way will be re-opened and re-aligned across the new bridge, allowing the existing bridge to be demolished.
The scheme is now expected to be completed later this summer (2020) owing to delays associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).
- June 2020 – Structures moved into place ahead of bridge lift
- May 2020 – Historic Alma Bridge due to be removed
- Feb 2020 – Spring opening still expected for new footbridge
- Oct 2019 – Work to replace Alma Bridge progressing well
- Aug 2019 – Work due to start on new footbridge in Sidmouth later this month
The main 20 metre bridge span structure will be steel, painted grey in colour with two-tone contrasting sections, in common with other recent Devon County Council steel bridge installations.
The feature parapet posts will be curved, painted steel with a stainless steel top rail.
The bridge will be supported on the west side by a steel fabricated abutment frame to minimise mass. This frame will also support a steel approach ramp.
The bridge will be supported on the east side with a reinforced concrete abutment and ramp, tied back into the re-profiled sandstone cliffs of Pennington Point. The structure will be clad in Purbeck Blue limestone in order to match the existing wall on the east side. The durable stone is predominately grey, but it does have orange bands, and although it is of the Cretaceous Period, it is still found on the Jurassic Coast. At either end, the stone clad structure will be curved horizontally to soften its appearance and help it blend into the cliff face.
Material from the re-profiling of the sandstone cliff will be deposited at the end of Pennington Point, where it will follow the natural processes of erosion taking place all along the East Cliffs. This option has less impact on the environment than hauling it away with multiple lorry journeys through the town and is supported by the Environment Agency and will be subject to an environmental permit, Waste acceptance approval and a Marine Management Organisation (MMO) license.
Lighting will be provided to illuminate the approach ramps on either side of the bridge which incorporate changes of direction. LED lamps will be installed in the upper handrail nearest to the river and will be angled to shine down onto the decking, avoiding light pollution of the river.
A seating and viewing area will be provided on the upper section on the east side.
At the location of the existing Alma Bridge, a seating area and information board will be provided on the west side to commemorate and mark the position of the previous bridges which have been in place for over 100 years.
The existing Alma was damaged beyond repair during severe flooding in July 2012.
Following investigations by Devon County Council it was found that the mudstone rock foundations beneath the western pier of the bridge had deteriorated and both piers had suffered significant scour. The concrete decking was beyond reasonable repair.
A temporary scaffold crossing has been in place over the existing structure ever since.
The ornate bridge parapets of the original Alma Bridge were dismantled for safe keeping.
Preliminary designs for a new crossing over the River Sid to access the Coast Path further inland from Alma Bridge were first drawn up in 2016.
As well as public consultation, plans were also discussed with stakeholders including Sidmouth Town Council, South West Water, the Environment Agency, East Devon District Council, Devon Countryside Access Forum, East Devon Ramblers, Devon Public Rights of Way team, South West Coast Path team and Devon Safety Audit.
The scheme was granted planning approval in November 2018.
A Blue Plaque at the site details the history of Alma Bridge.
It was named after the Battle of Alma, and was constructed in 1855 at a cost of £26.10s when The Sid Vale Association was given permission by the wife of the Lord of the Manor of Salcombe Regis. The bridge had to be repaired in 1877 after it sustained heavy damage during storms.
Then in 1900, Sidmouth Council commissioned architect R.W. Sampson to design the existing bridge and by 1902 the Hanger path had been completed.