AN artery route through Frampton Cotterell has reopened to traffic – but motorists face another six weeks of diversions this summer.

Church Road was opened to traffic on Monday (April 28), more than a week after it was scheduled to, following three weeks of preparatory works to replace a dangerously-dilapidated road bridge.

South Gloucestershire Council closed the road to allow utility companies to divert cables and other apparatus from the old bridge to a temporary crossing point on the site. Workers encountered unforeseen underground obstructions and, for water services in particular, this required the manufacture of new specialist parts leading to some delays on the site.

Now preparation works are complete, the council will wait until the school summer holidays before rebuilding the bridge, which is in danger of collapse.

Head of Streetcare, Mark King, said: “These works are part of an essential project which will see the complete replacement of Frampton Cotterell’s ageing road bridge with a new, low-maintenance structure later this summer.

“We sympathise with road users frustrated by the additional delays caused by these underground obstacles but felt that it was better to resolve the issues in one closure period rather than have to close the road again at a later date, with potential clashes with other road works in the area.”

He added: “Unfortunately what the utility companies encountered once work had begun did not correspond with the records available.

“Often they are dealing with records that were produced when the pipes and cables were put in which for drainage and water pipes can be 50 or even 100 years old. During that time, records can have been lost or unrecorded changes made, and this is what created problems once the utilities companies began their work.”

The authority is replacing the bridge after routine tests showed it is nearing the end of its useful life.

The new ‘advanced composite’ bridge will be one of the first in the UK to be made from extreme weather-resistant layers of glass and carbon fibres bound together with a tough resin in a process more commonly seen in advanced passenger aircraft manufacturing.

The glass and fibre are much lighter than conventional materials, meaning that the bridge can be installed in roughly half the normal time.

Church Road will again be closed for six weeks from Monday, July 28.

Cllr Dave Hockey (Lib Dem, Frampton Cotterell) said the closures were a necessary evil.

He added: “I am keen to ensure that highways engineers look closely at all of the possible risks of delays.

“They will also make sure that the problems associated with the diversion arrangements over the last three weeks are carefully considered and addressed in time for the planned six-week closure.”

Vehicles will be diverted via Yate and the Iron Acton bypass during the main installation. Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the route via the temporary footbridge downstream of the existing bridge.