Bath's Cleveland Bridge could reopen to two-way traffic next month after longs delays to repairs

Bath's Cleveland Bridge could reopen to two-way traffic as early as next month if a monitoring system is installed, according to an independent report.

Engineers who published the detailed report said if a monitoring system and weight limitations were implemented, the bridge could reopen by late September.

It assures drivers, pedestrians and cyclists that the 200-year-old bridge will remain safe once it is brought back into service.

The report recommends a staged approach to opening of the bridge, initially the 18-tonne temporary load restriction would remain and if the monitoring showed there were no issues the bridge could open to normal traffic loads of 44 tonnes.

Scaffolding on the bridge will start to be removed this month (August) and the work is anticipated to take up to six weeks with the current traffic signals remaining until the monitoring system is operational.

Cleveland Bridge forms a key route through Bath city centre and is used by hundreds of vehicles every day.

Cleveland Bridge was built in the 19th century and was designed for pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages.

The council began essential repairs last year after finding significant corrosion and the bridge remains partially closed with only pedestrians, cyclists and cars allowed to use it.

Further delays to the one-way traffic management on the bridge were announced in April - causing frustration with locals who use the bridge daily.

Engineers have carried out a careful and detailed assessments, as well as further computer modelling, following the discovery of unexpected corrosion in hanger bars at the start of year.

The report says an intelligent monitoring system could be deployed relatively quickly and allow the structure to be brought back into service following a brief, initial period of monitoring under test loads.

Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for transport, said: "Safety remains our number one priority. As the renovation of the bridge progressed, and previously unknown issues like the hangar bars have challenged the renovation, we have followed expert advice from independent engineers.

"The latest report before us by independent bridge engineers recommends using a monitoring system to allow the bridge to be safely brought back into service as quickly as possible, this option is being progressed with the aim of opening the bridge to two-way traffic by late September/early October."

While the assessments have been carried out other works have continued with main concrete repairs to the deck and trusses.

Currently diversion routes for all other vehicles and through traffic on the A36 via South Gloucestershire are available on the council's Cleveland Bridge webpage.