THE main road between Yate and Bristol is about to close for safety reasons after engineers found “structural failures” in the bridge which carries it over the M4.
National Highways is advising drivers that the A432 Badminton Road M4 overbridge will be closed from 7pm on Wednesday July 12 and says they should “expect delays and follow local diversion routes”.
The agency responsible for the motorway network said: “During the current structural inspection, accelerated deterioration and cracking to the South East underside of the structure was identified.
“Due to this, National Highways has taken the decision to close the overbridge for safety reasons while a full assessment of the structure is undertaken.
“Until the investigations and assessments of the bridge are completed, it will remain closed to motorists. Cyclists and pedestrians will be able to use the bridge as normal.”
The official diversion announced by National Highways is via the B4465 Westerleigh Road to the A46 at Dodington up to the Cross Hands at Old Sodbury and into Yate on the A432 from the east, adding an extra eight miles to the 4.6 mile journey between the A4174 Wick Wick roundabout and the centre of Yate.
However, drivers heading to villages usually accessed via the A432, including Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne Down, are likely to find their own, shorter diversions.
National Highways is also encouraging motorway users to use the M4 junction 18 for Yate, rather than the M32 and A4174, and traffic coming from the south to use the A420 and A46.
National Highways route manager Sean Walsh said: “We fully understand closures are frustrating, but we can reassure drivers that safety is and always will be our top priority.
“That is why we are carrying out this essential and complex investigation work under a full closure for the safety of those using both the bridge and the M4 below.
“We’ve been communicating with local businesses, stakeholders and South Gloucestershire Council and other local authorities to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.
“We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause and ask those travelling in this area to please allow additional time for your journeys.”
National Highways owns and maintains the bridge but the A432 is part of South Gloucestershire Council’s road network.
Council cabinet member for communities Leigh Ingham said: “We understand the technical challenges faced by National Highways with this essential investigation work to ensure the safety of their bridge.
“We are supporting National Highways with the diversion route, working as quickly as we can to put the appropriate measures in place.
“The National Highways bridge is a critical part of the South Gloucestershire network, and we will continue to work closely with them to minimise the disruption this work will create.”
The bridge, built in 1966 and made from concrete with steel cables, is inspected every two years, with more in-depth inspections every six.
It is not known how long the closure will last.
A National Highways spokesperson said: “Until the investigations and assessments of the bridge are completed, the bridge will remain closed.
“As we are yet to complete the investigations, it is not possible to currently give a time frame.
“It is rare for National Highways to see structural failures like this, though some components, such as bridge expansion joints, fail from time to time.
“Most failures that do occur are as the result of external factors such as flooding and accident damage.”