Reopening of Bristol's Gaol Ferry Bridge delayed by three months due to 'paper thin' steel

Gaol Ferry Bridge was closed by Bristol City Council in August 2022 for restoration work and will now be shut until next August Credit: Google

The reopening of an historic bridge linking two communities in Bristol has been delayed by three months due to the scale of corrosion.

Gaol Ferry Bridge is a busy pedestrian bridge linking Southville to Wapping Wharf, but was shut in August 2022 to carry out repairs.

At the time, business owners in Wapping Wharf expressed concerns that closing the route could lead to a fall in customers, however Bristol City Council said it would "work to keep the closure to a minimum".

But in a guest post on the Bristol mayor's blog yesterday (24 February), it's been announced the 88-year-old bridge will remain shut for an additional three months.

Cllr Don Alexander, the council's cabinet member for transport, wrote: "Having removed the decking and started the process of stripping off the paint and corrosion, [the contractors] were on programme.

"Unfortunately it has become clear that the bridge is in a worse condition than we had thought.

"After nearly a century, the steel work is especially degraded around the southern pier (tower). In some places, it has become paper thin.

"Without extensive repairs it could fail, as the pictures on this blog show. We cannot let that happen, and remain committed to restoring this ageing infrastructure."

Repairs to the bridge are being extended by three months after contractors found parts of it were 'paper thin' Credit: Bristol City Council

Cllr Alexander also confirmed that the repairs to the bridge will now cost 50% more than originally forecast.

While it was hoped the total cost of the restoration project would be around £1m, it is now expected that the extension will mean it will end up costing closer to £1.5m. But Cllr Alexander added that this is "still within the budget that we had set aside for these vital works."

'We will continue to support Wapping Wharf traders'

He continued: "Although hugely disappointing, it’s important to keep sight of the fact that without these repairs Gaol Ferry Bridge was on course to being structurally unsound and would have had to close permanently. 

"We will continue to make sure these essential works are completed in the shortest possible time.

"We will continue to support Wapping Wharf traders, making sure they are promoted along the diversion routes as well as supporting them through promotional campaigns."

Full information on the closure of the bridge and the repair works can be found here.