We welcome questions and comments about the reconstruction of the Bridge and the Whitchurch Bridge Company. There is a timeout for submissions, so if your message is long you may wish to compose it in Word etc and then copy and paste it into the Message box. This page is moderated so please expect a delay before seeing your message.
I've just noticed in the last month during the rush hour. Along the gap around the barriers which I take on my daily route with the bike.
There is a cone to block it off.
Is there a reason for this?
I've spoken to a few bikers who nearly got knocked off the bike avoiding the cone and nearly getting hit by the falling bar we try to avoid when it comes down cheers!
John, we have a problem with some drivers driving round the barrier to avoid paying the Toll. Worth noting that this is a criminal offence, and that we have these incidents on CCTV. We are trying out bollards to prevent this, but I acknowledge that this means cyclists and motorcyclists have to slow down and maybe slot between cars instead of undertaking.
We are keeping the bollard idea under review, and will modify or abandon it if necessary. Longer barriers may be a solution, but that would also affect motorcyclists.
Why is your charge a massive 60p each way whilst Eynsham's Swinford toll bridge is only 5p ?
John, please have a look at the Toll Application 2014 page on our website which you can get to from the Tolls page. This explains why a 60p Toll is needed, and why the Public Inquiry Inspector agreed it was needed.
Walk way is a very good idea, having had to negotiate Mum in a wheelchair is no fun so a seperate walk way would be fantastic, just one point you may need to look at , in the text you mention Option D in the attachment is option C ! I take it C and D are one of the same
Diane, if you look at the PBA Report you’ll see that their Options C1 and C2 include the 2 pedestrian passing places but not the separate walkway, which is the key feature of Option D. It’s worth noting that PBA didn’t look at the option of a separate walkway as it wasn’t in the remit we gave them – we asked them to look at widening the road and footway on either the east side or the west side, and to recommend which was better. We are pleased that the consultation has produced a new Option which looks attractive.
I am a university student doing a report on toll bridges.I would like to know if i could find out all the overheads associated in operating a toll bridge, I look forward to your response.
On the occasion of 25/09/16 i was in a small queue making ready to do what all traffic should do to pay and pass through the toll bridge.As i was about to, large motorcycle was let through without his payment being taken and also at exactly the very same time the other side of the toll a similiar sized motorcycle this time dodging
the gate bar did the same thing.
Are 2 wheeled vehicles of all types exempt in which case i think i will downsize from my 4 wheeled vehicle in future.
We do not charge a Toll for motorcycles and they are allowed to skirt around the barrier without it being raised. The reasons are mainly practical: in winter they wear warm protective clothing and gloves and we know from past experience it can take a while for them to extricate 60p or a Bridge Card. This causes delays which we wish to avoid.
Found along Whitchurch to Goring river walk, soft toy yellow duck with orange beak and feet,black eyes with white dots. White ribbon bow with pink, blue and yellow dots. Approx 28cms (11 inches). Has 'Happy Easter' on rear.
Please contact by email if you are the owner.
When the bridge was rebuilt, a promise was given that although the new bridge would tolerate heavier traffic, the weight restriction would not be lifted. Crossing the bridge recently, I commented on the size of a lorry coming the other way and was told that "there is no longer a weight restriction" by the attendant. Please confirm that the promise to restrict heavy lorries has not been rescinded.
The weight restriction on our Bridge used to be a statutory weight limit, now it is an environmental weight limit and is signed as such. This means that vehicles (excluding coaches etc) over 7.5 tonnes may only cross the Bridge if they need access to the immediate area. Exactly the same restriction applies through Whitchurch-on-Thames. Our Toll Collectors do not know where heavy lorries are coming from or going to so it is our policy not to stop them, and in any case we have no powers to do so. However, any resident who sees what they think is an overweight vehicle flouting the environmental weight can report it to Oxfordshire Trading Standards. They can and do prosecute drivers where a case is proven.
When “lost” HGV’s which can’t get under the railway bridge arrive at our Bridge from the north we offer the drivers the option of going over the Bridge and turning at the Working Men’s Club, which is easier for them and less disruptive to other traffic. However, most HGV drivers decline this option as they are unwilling to drive on to a Bridge with a 7.5 tonne weight limit sign.
Hi Geoff, apologies if this question has been asked before. Does the toll fee include VAT? Many thanks, Marc
Dear Geoff, just a quick question. When the bridge was recently rebuilt were any service ducts installed for Utility Companies for future use?
I travel over the bridge daily and I often find cars coming round the corner on my side of the road! I am convinced that any day soon there will be a collision. Would it be possible for road lines to be painted down the middle, which would hopefully then prevent this from happening? Thank you.
We follow the advice of our consulting engineers on road markings. The current thinking from highways engineers at Oxfordshire County Council and elsewhere is that on roads below a certain width traffic flows more slowly and are safer if there is no centre line. This is why there is no centre line along Whitchurch High Street. Personally I think there are arguments both ways, but for public liability reasons we have to follow the current professional advice. When we widen the Pangbourne approach road the increased width may allow us to reinstate the centre line.
I tried to top up my card last week with £10 but was told you can now only top up with £20. I don't see why this has changed? £20 is a lot to have stuck on a toll bridge card and not in my pocket!
We only have 1 top-up amount - £20 – to keep the top up process simple and to minimise the chance of errors by our Toll collectors. Also, topping up takes time and it thus helps to have a higher top-up amount so top ups are less frequent.We are looking at top ups through the internet and it may then be possible to offer different top-up amounts. Clifton Bridge offers bigger discounts for bigger top ups and we may be able to do the same thing.
Hello, I wonder if someone might be able to kindly give me some idea of how the bridge affects rush hour traffic, in the mornings especially? My husband and I are about to move to Whitchurch and we are wondering how much of a tailback the bridge might cause and how long it takes to queue to get over/what the traffic is like generally in the mornings...! Any info gratefully received :) Thanks
The peak time in the morning is 0800 – 0830 and there is usually a small queue at this time. I would think the Toll maybe adds up to 2 minutes to your journey. However, the queue will quickly build up if someone doesn’t have their Toll ready or stops to ask the Toll collector for directions etc.
There are also potential delays getting through the bottom narrows in Whitchurch, and under the railway bridge in Pangbourne.
Maybe regular users can add their own comments for Jennie.
The biggest problem is oversized lorries and coaches trying to get over the bridge. Coming down the hill towards Pangbourne is a nightmare, cars are parked all up one side of the road and you can frequently get delays of 15-20 minutes in the evening. Twice in the last three weeks I have crawled the last mile or so due to an oversized Lorry trying to use the bridge or get up. My honest advise would be to look elsewhere, I would not want to be parking my car on the road when so many cars are going in and out.
Could you please advise when the 'capped to 4 charging system' will be introduced. You have stated that this will be when your systems have been updated with the functionality but when will this be?
Helen, I had a meeting with the suppliers of our Bridge Card system yesterday to discuss and agree a spec for the “4 charged uses per day” cap software change. I expect it to be introduced by the end of August, and we will of course publicise it when it happens.
Regarding pre 12th August "topping-up" at current tariffs; 1) is there a maximum that the Card will hold (and if so, what is it)? & 2) what happens if you lose a card with a significant prepaid sum on; does the Bridge Co maintain a record and merely issue a repl card (for an admin fee ..) or is this sum lost?
We only allow top-ups if you have 50 or less crossings remaining on your Bridge Card, and our Toll collectors will enforce this. So in practice the maximum number of crossings you could have on your Bridge Card on 11th August is 50 + 34 (ie the current top-up amount) = 84. If you lose your Bridge Card, and it was registered, we will transfer the unused crossings to a new Bridge Card when you purchase it in the normal way and register it. You should tell us if you lose your Bridge Card so that we can arrange this.
[Edited for top up amount]
Where does it actually say in the toll order of SoS decision letter you can INCREASE the concession from 29.4p to 40p? In addition, I thought you'd made a commitment not to increase above 30p? Please advise.
A Toll Order is only required for regulated Tolls, which are the full price Tolls of 60p for cars and £4 for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes mgw. Concessionary Tolls are not regulated and are therefore not included in the Toll Order. In 2009 we committed to capping the concessionary Toll at 30p until the next Toll Application had been approved, and this we did. Now that a new Toll Application has been approved we have made a new commitment - to maintain the concessionary Toll for cars at 40p for not less than 12 months, and then capping it at 45p (ie 75 % of the regulated Toll) thereafter until another Toll Application is submitted and approved.
do I understand that you do not offer a concession to blue badge holders as is the case at other river crossings?
In common with nearly all other toll operators we do not offer concessions to Blue Badge holders, as the Blue Badge scheme is to do with parking and is nothing to do with toll bridges. However, we – like most other toll operators - do offer free crossings for those in receipt of the higher rate of mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance.
The Severn bridges are the only tolled river crossings I'm aware of that give concessions to Blue Badge holders.
After driving the extra miles and queuing through goring I am very happy to pay whatever you think fair!
The Bridge was originally built in 1792 to be "a good and substantial bridge …… of great utility and advantage to the public”. This continues to this day: we have just reconstructed the Bridge to extend its life by 100 years whilst keeping the Tolls as low as possible.
A very silly message from 'Jon' below (is he a real person I wonder?). How on earth are the tolls 'competitive'?! We are completely held to ransom – pay up or drive a 9-mile detour!
On a separate note, I have to cross the bridge four times a day in term times. That will be £12 a week: £420 a year. Outrageous. It's perfectly possible to introduce a concessionary rate to local residents – all you would need to do is show proof of address and be issued with a greater number of crossings at each top-up. What is your proposed general concessionary rate if the toll goes up to 60p, and what are you going to do to help local residents?
One last question: please could you state how much is paid out to shareholders each year?
The Planning system required us to reconstruct the Bridge over the winter months to minimise the inconvenience to river users. Because of the flooding last year work was stopped for almost 3 months and this led to big cost increases which we weren’t expecting. These costs have to be passed through to Bridge users, which is why we’ve applied for a Toll increase.
We need a certain level of Toll revenue. The Company believes all Bridge users should pay the same. If we are to offer cheaper Tolls to Whitchurch-on-Thame residents we would need to increase Tolls for Goring Heath, Pangbourne etc residents which we think is unfair and unjustifiable.
We help all Bridge users by doing our best to provide a useful and reliable Thames crossing as efficiently as we can. The purpose of the upcoming Public Inquiry is for an independent Inspector to assess whether the Company is doing this and our Toll Application is justified on the facts.
As you cross frequently you may wish to join our Frequent User Scheme, which is worth doing if you cross more than 84 times a month.
Finally, we know that the dividend we pay to our shareholders is perceived by some as a significant driver of Toll increases. This assertion is not supported by the facts, and I would suggest that you read our Toll Application to understand why.
I accidentally crossed your beautiful bridge on Monday this week and think that the toll price is very competitive indeed. You made my day even if I was lost! Jon. X
Geoff, your toll increase application indicates that you will charge motorcycles. What impact will this have on the queues in the High Street?
I confirm that motorcycles will still be allowed to cross free of charge, for the reasons I gave in response to your message of 18th September 2014. I’m not aware of anything in our Toll Application which suggests otherwise, but if you point me to it I'll have a look.
Further to your response on the railings, would it not have been sensible to have undertaken whatever work was required on the railings whilst the road was closed for a year? When the river was in flood and the works on the bridge stopped surely it would have been a good time to have done this work. You are right, we motorists would not be happy to see e road closed again for this reason, nor would we want temporary traffic lights.
Any work we do on the railings will be part of a larger scheme to improve the Pangbourne approach road. This will involve road widening, which in turn will involve land purchase (assuming the owners are willing to sell) and Planning permission. As Planning permission lapses after 3 years we would not want to submit a PA until we knew we could afford the works. As of to-day we can’t.
How can you justify a proposed 50% increase in toll from 40p to 60p? You say it is to maintain the crossing - it has just been maintained for the last 11 months - what preventative maintenance do you propose to undertake that warrants this increase? If we are forced to pay this extra cost, we need to be told exactly what this extra cost will be supporting. If it is the widening of the approach road, that is a public road - why do you think it is your responsibility - and ultimately why is it not funded by the council?
Steve, you need to wait until we publish our Toll Application. That will explain the reasons why a Toll increase is necessary. If you wish to challenge anything in the TA you have the right to do so, through the consultation process administered by the Department for Transport.
The new bridge looks fabulous and simply delighted that it has reopened. Slightly disappointed that the railings did't get 'tarted' up - I understand from our local councillor that they are the responsibility of the Bridge Company - is this true and if so, will you be smartening them up?
Thank you for your kind comments about the Bridge. I confirm that the approach road and railings from the surgery entrance up to the Bridge are the responsibility of the Bridge Company. The railings have an uncertain future. Our next project is the widening of this approach road, and it is probable that we will need to replace the railings with modern barriers to give the necessary crash worthiness. So we are not keen to spend any money on the railings until we have a better idea of their future. If we did any repainting, temporary traffic control would be required. This would delay motorists and we feel they deserve a clear run over the Bridge after a year of disruption.
Before the bridge closed for repair motorcycles could cross free of charge. Is this still the case now it has re-opened. Brilliant refurb by the way.
Yes, motorcycles will still go free. It's a practical issue really - on a cold winter's morning it can take quiet a while to get your gloves off, start moving your fingers, find your money several layers down... so motorcycles go free. Thanks for your kind comment about the reconstruction works.
Dear Sir, Now you have you nice new Bridge.Can you kindly install some cameras both on the bridge and on the approach both sides ,so we can see weather permitting, Bridge will be operational and possibly a phone line or messag board to check this out Thanks David Self Woodcote Resident.
Now the Bridge has reopened it shouldn’t close again for another 120 years. However, if we become aware of any local road closures or accidents etc which affect road traffic over our Bridge, we’ll Tweet this information. So I suggest you follow us on Twitter if you want the latest info.
The bridge looks really wonderful. A brilliant job.Well done to all.
Great news the bridge is reopening and that faster barriers are being fitted. However, is the local council prepared to introduce no parking along the approach road to the bridge (Whitchurch Hill side)?? It's the parked cars right up to the bridge approach that cause the biggest bottlenecks and poor flow of traffic :-/
Cars have only been on the northern approach to the Bridge while it’s been closed, mainly people parking for a short time while they walk over to Pangbourne for a quick shop.
We expect that cars will no longer park here once the Bridge reopens. If there is a problem then I'm pretty sure that Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council will deal with it.
I was actually referring to the parking before the bridge closed, Geoff. It was always a cause of delays with traffic queuing back up towards the hill because of cars parked right up to the bridge approach/exit (admittedly worse at certain times of day). The road isn't wide enough for the traffic to flow in both directions if cars are parked ... Always has surprised me that there aren't double yellows along at least some of that stretch.
I must say I wasn’t aware of cars parking right up to the Bridge before it closed. We’ll see what happens when we reopen, and if there’s a problem I’ll talk to the Parish Council and we’ll see what can be done.
Any plans for new twinning projects for the parish of Whitchurch? Mostar? Remagen, perhaps???
Is it possible to purchase a bridge toll card whilst the bridge is closed?
I’m afraid not. You’ll be able to purchase a Bridge Card Pack for £20 - ie £10 deposit for the Card and £10 for 34 crossings - from the Toll Booth when we start collecting Tolls, which may be a day or two after we open the Bridge to cars.
When will the bridge reopen? My journey to work over the last year has been dreadful due to the heavy traffic which has been diverted. I really hoped it would be finished by now!
Can you be be more specific about which utility companies are holding up the reopening, so we can take their level of cooperation into account next year we switch suppliers?
How will I find out the exact date and time of re-opening, as I would like to be present.
Why wasn't the concrete pouring done in one operation to include the sides where the pavements wil be. Not a complaint. Just curious.
This was to do with the Bridge design and the fact that we don’t want the side girders to carry any load. The 500+ tonnes of concrete in the main pour caused the Bridge deck to deflect downwards to its design position – you may have noticed that the load bearing girders, when lifted in, were slightly bowed upwards. The side pours will cause some additional deflection, but this will be relatively small and can be allowed for by adjusting the fixing bolts in the slotted holes which you can just see on the outside of the side girders. The side pours are planned for next week.
Pls can you let me know when the bridge is due to open as it affects my school run to ORatory and I am trying to plan for the new term in Sept 14.
We’ve said that the Bridge will re-open in September 2014. We can’t be more precise at the moment because there are still activities which can’t be planned with certainty – for example, concrete pouring can be affected by hot weather, and waterproofing can’t done if it’s raining. Also, service diversions back on to the Bridge have to be carried out by the utility providers themselves and not by our own contractors so we have less control (although we are working closely and constructively with them).
If things go well we may be able to re-open in early September, but if they don’t it will be later in the month.
I really enjoy the curve of the new bridge, and hope this is not hidden when the bridge is completed.
Glad you like the graceful curve. The line of the reconstructed bridge is following that of the original bridge, which it needs to do as the original side girders will be fixed back on and they have a curve on them which can’t be changed (and we wouldn’t want to change them anyway). First two refurbished side girders arrived back to-day, and should be back on the bridge next week.
Considering over 30,000 vehicles use the bridge every week, I am failing to understand why planning had to accommodate keeping the river open to pleasure boaters, especially during the summer months when work would have been at its fastest?
I am quite sure this has something to do with some ancient waterways act written in the stone age...
Would I be correct in saying that has inhibited progress on the bridge?
Would it be feasible to restrict the movements of large vehicles such as low loaders delivering & removing from the site, to hours outside of peak times? These vehicles have resulted in long queues forming into & around Pangbourne. Restricting movements to late evening would cause less aggravation to commuters & allow easier negotiation through the tight streets of Pangbourne.
Unfortunately these lorries often need to be working all day – they cannot afford to be stood down during the rush hours, and they may not be available in the evenings. But I will talk to our project team to see if anything can be done to reduce movements, particularly of the longest lorries, through Pangbourne in the rush hours.
But does the Whitchurch Bridge act 1988 require that you provide a convenient form of transport for both pedestrians and cyclists. Once a cyclist is dismounted, they become a pedestrian (the law us quite clear in this regard) and therefore you are only providing a convenient means for pedestrians. This you are not fulfilling the terms if the act.
You are correct that the 1988 Act requires us to provide for pedestrians and cyclists. The Safety Notice on the footbridge asking that cyclists dismount is, in our view, a sensible measure to ensure that both cyclists and pedestrians can use the footbridge safely. We know that a minority of cyclists are determined to cycle over the footbridge: we cannot force them to dismount, we rely on all users of the footbridge being considerate to others.
You don't gave no cyclist policy though do you? It is a cyclist and pedestrian bridge and the wording says that. A person cycling slowly and considerately it no more of a nuisance or danger than a mobility scooter, a pram, a person running, or a group walking two or more abreast.
Dismount signs have no legal basis and can at best be described as advisory. Consideration goes both ways. We don't need trolls or tolls. Less cars would be nice, but I obviously that's where you make your money.
It is true that a considerate cyclist cycling slowly is not a particular problem, but “slowly” is open to interpretation. “Dismounted” is quite clear and unambiguous. I agree that everyone who uses the footbridge needs to show consideration to others, which we all should be demonstrating wherever we walk or cycle.
Would the Company care to use this message board to raise awareness of the iminent toll consultation devised by the Government.
We're happy to publicise this consultation. We had an item about this on our home page for a few weeks back in February, and there is currently an item on the Company information page, which you get to by clicking on the link on the first line of our home page. The Government’s proposals are not well thought through and we aren’t expecting any changes to the current Toll Application process in the near future.
Can you give some reasoning as to why a 3 month works delay has become a 6 month project delay?
Surely, 3 month works delay = 3 months project delay. Also, the additional light available now should provide more availability of access to progress the works...
When the river re-opens to boat traffic on 1st April there has to be a different way of working both for safety reasons and to maintain a 7 metre wide boat channel as required by the EA. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that (unlike most other bridges) only 1 span can be used for navigation – we can’t switch boats to other spans while we work in span 3. There will be weekend and night working, but even so the progress of work will be slower than it would have been if the river had remained closed until the completion of the works.
Given the long delay to the bridge re-opening, could the sequence of the traffic lights at Streatley be re-visited? I know the problem is cars turing right from the Pangbourne direction but in the morning this is the only one of the four roads were there is a long tail back of traffic. It would also help all the school kids who have to wait in the cold and rain for their school bus.
This is a matter for West Berkshire Council. I will pass your message on, but I suggest you also contact them direct yourself.
Yes, I would echo what Geoff has said. I have contacted WBC regarding this back in November. I got a very thoughtful response detailing what they have done to improve the junction, but due to the expected short-term nature of the works, they weren't prepared to look into it any further.
In light of the new delays I have, however, contacted them again in the hope that they might reconsider this decision. I would please urge as many other people as possible to do so to in order to strengthen the case.
How confident are you that the Thames at Whitchurch will be open to boaters on 31st March 2014. Do you anticipate any restrictions to navigation.
Bryan, the river will definitely be open for boaters as from 31st March. There’ll be some temporary short-term closures after that, but these will be well publicised in advance by the Environment Agency (I think through Harbour Master’s notices) and ourselves.
I hope you relised the delay in repairing this bridge is not just affected to the shops and pubs in the area. But the Children who go to the schools in the area are late for the school not just the local ones but the prep schools in the area as the traffic is so bad you spent 2hrs in the car sitting in traffic and the children are stressing and having panick attacks worrying about how late they are for school. do some work!
We have always acknowledged that the closure of the Bridge would cause great inconvenience especially for those who normally commute or do school runs over the Bridge, and I’m sorry that you and your children are finding the present situation stressful. Until this week no work has been possible since Christmas, and we did not know in advance that we would be able to restart this week. Balfour Beatty and their subcontractors needed a few days to procure staff, induct them etc and work has started to-day (Wed 19th March). More activity will be evident over the next few days.
I'm interested to understand why the pleasure boat trade is able to insist upon free movement by a specific date, whilst one of the main road routes into Pangbourne is allowed to remain closed with no fixed finish date.
Your question should I think be directed to your MP. The planning system for projects such as ours is that any closure of the river is controlled by the Environment Agency, who have duties in relation to river users. There is no over-arching authority which weighs up the relative needs of river users and Bridge users and which can overrule the EA. That’s not the fault of the EA, it’s the way the system is set up. I would point out that we have had good co-operation with the EA on agreeing temporary closures after 31st March. However, we would have preferred to carry out the works in the summer.
I push my bike over the pedestrian bridge twice a day. Whilst the river flow and water level has significantly decreased by at least 1 metre, there still seems to be no sign of any bridge activity. Can you please provide an progress update and your confidence of a July re-opening.
You are of course correct to say that the river level has fallen back to its typical level. However, the flows are still high and the river remains under an Environment Agency “red board” warning, advising users of all boats not to navigate because the strong flows make it difficult and dangerous. We are hoping that the “red board” warning will be removed within the next few days: our contractors will then mobilise and resume work on the Bridge as soon as possible.
We will be issuing a statement on progress and the planned re-opening date by the end of this week.
I use the temporary footbridge several times each day, as do a number of our clients. Frequently we are confronted by irresponsible cyclist or motor cyclist who either have an inability to read or choose to totally ignore the request to dismount.
I welcome the comments made on this site regarding safety issues and as ask if it is the intention of the company, or it's contractors, to improve the safety of pedestrians using the bridge by applying some restriction or improving the signage before the inevitable accident happens?
In addition, the bollards at either end of the construction are too frequently moved, or purposely knocked over, as seen most weekends. Again, is the intention to put in place more substantial barriers?
The Company agrees with you completely regarding irresponsible cyclists etc, although they are very much in the minority. I think the signage isn't the issue: they know they should dismount, but choose not to do so. Physical barriers may prevent pushed cycles or mobility buggies using the footbridge. I think the best solution is peer pressure: we must all challenge bike riders and ask them (in our own way) to dismount. The bollards do get disturbed as you say, but then so would barriers etc.
As someone who pushes their bike over the bridge twice a day I find it shocking that no one has mentioned walking to one side rather than in the middle, I have also seen cyclists push their bikes in the middle which causes the same issue for everyone.
I have almost hit people with handlebars because they don't move over and stay in the middle.
No one has mentioned the idiots who park in the toll both lanes either which makes it harder for mobility scooters and cyclists to get onto the bridge.
I watched someone a few days ago trying to get past on their scooter and the driver was sat in the car and did nothing.
I also think we should be allowed to cycle (slowly) before 7am and after 7pm.
Although allowing slow cycling at all times would take up less space and those walking in groups would no longer take up the entire bridge.
I think we all need to show consideration to other users of the footbridge, as we should to others on the narrow pavements in Pangbourne and elsewhere. We shouldn’t need to put up signs pointing this out, but I’m hoping that your message here might just make a little difference. As regards cycling, I can see your point but we won’t be changing our no cycling rule as it is simple and straightforward to understand.
Given the delay related to the speed and height of the water, and the risk that this continues for a while yet. Is there a risk that the capital overrun this will cause will make rebuilding the bridge unviable to both the company and the contractors?
(That is: is there any risk that the financial delay will cause the bridge not to be rebuilt/ completed, or a significant [years] delay result whilst the finances of the bridge are reconstructed?)
You are right to assume that the current delays will increase the cost of the project. However, the Whitchurch Bridge Company has been planning this project for many years and we included a prudent financial risk provision into our business plan which we are confident will suffice. Our only operating income is from Toll revenue so it is clearly in our interests to get the Bridge open and in use as soon as possible.
Balfour Beatty is a world-class infrastructure service business with much expertise in bridge works such as this, and they certainly would not get themselves into a position where this project became unviable for them.
Geoff, I appreciate you are between a rock and a hard place but I just want to ask 2 questions. Why was the dismantling so delayed? I am also surprised that works were scheduled from the south side as 1 the north side is needed to be open for March 31st. As this is not the only year we have had flooding and bad weather, I'm sure work could be continuing on the north side where there is little if any water flow.
Mike, the delay to the demolition is dealt with in FAQ 2.9. Balfiour Beatty have of course looked at working on the northern spans where there is less flow, but they need the pontoons for that work and there is still the problem of moving the pontoons across the river from where they are now by the compound. Please be assured that we are all very keen to get the works going again, and that anything that can be done will be done.
Through this message board, can you assure readers that you and your Company are fulfilling your duty of care to users in relation to the "non-slip surfacing at either end of the temporary foot bridge. Your answer to Mr Garret is at best, un-clear
The Whitchurch Bridge Company takes all its statutory duties, including those in relation to people using the footbridge, very seriously, and we are satisfied that we are fulfilling them. Balfour Beatty is responsible for the footbridge and inspect it on a regular basis: they are aware that small patches of the grey anti-slip paint have worn away and will be dealing with this.
I sense from your frosty response that we don't know what the environment agency are going to say? I'm surprised this wasn't discussed in November when it became clear the dismantling was taking longer than expected. Especially when they were starting from the wrong side!
Frosty response? It wasn’t meant to be! We are still in constructive discussion with the Environment Agency – like everyone else they wish to see the works completed as soon as possible. Plans are still being developed and discussed on how the works can best be carried out whilst maintaining a navigable channel for the boat people. By the way, the works were not started at the wrong side. It was originally planned to start on the southern side so as to enable an early start on the strengthening of the southern abutment.
Based on previous messages it has been heavily stated that the bad weather has caused the delay in completing the works. Am I correct in the assumption that works have been stopped now for 6 weeks yet we have a 3 month delay, at least. I can only conclude that the engineers mis-judged the time to remove the original bridge. I just would also like to clarify that if the new piles and bridge span in place before the end of March that this work can carry on while the water way is open to traffic or does it have to be suspended?
Mike, I think we’ve made it pretty clear that there are two main reasons for the delay – first was the hold up in starting the demolition, and second is the exceptional period of bad weather. We’ve also said that we expect work to continue beyond 31st March when the river is due to open for river traffic. Our contractor is discussing with the Environment Agency precisely how this can happen.
Clearly there has to be a sensible balance between the need to re-open the river for the boat people and the need to re-open the Bridge for the 6,000 people who normally use it every day, not to mention the local businesses who want their customers back and the local people who want the meadow back.
as we will be using the footbridge for a further six+ months can i suggest a non slip surface is applied to the two access points - the present painted surface is extremely slippery in both wet and frosty conditions and it seems illogical for the remainder of the bridge to have a non slip surface but these two areas don't
The grey surface at the ends of the footbridge, though different from that on the main spans, is still non slip. Its Product Data Sheet states that it is a slip resistant floor paint based on a good quality polyurethane resin system giving a textured finish, providing a hard wearing, water and oil resistant finish. It needs to be kept clean, which our main contractor does.
Are you compensating Reading council for the increased traffic over Caversham bridge? My journey to work from Caversham has been increased by approximately an hour a day. Much as I sympathise with the residents of Whitchurch and Pangbourne the impact has been far wider.
Liz, I’m sorry your journey time is extended because of our Bridge works. However, handing over compensation payments in situations like this is not the way things happen – in this respect the Whitchurch Bridge Company is acting in the same way as a local council would. However, all the highways authorities involved know about the delays to the works on the Bridge and one of the actions they take is to ensure that they neither plan nor allow any road works on the diversionary routes.
The best thing we and our contractor can do is to finish the works and re-open the Bridge as soon as possible so your and others’ journeys get back to normal, and this is what we will do.
In hindsight wouldn't it have better to remove the bridge from the Whitchurch side if there was any doubt weather could cause a delay. I understand river flow prevents work but if they were working on the side out of the flow surely there would be no problem meeting the end of march deadline.
So, although no-one ever expected your competence at project management/scheduling skills - how confident are you about the July date? What penalty clauses have been invoked by delay?
I'm sure many residents are interested?
Also, what impact do you see this having on the community during the busy summer months?
James, there’s no need to be sarcastic. The project plan was drawn up by the main contractor – Balfour Beatty in this case –and was scrutinised and queried by our (as client) project manager before being accepted. We buy in this expertise because we don’t have it ourselves, as of course the Company hasn’t built a bridge since 1902. We are reasonably confident about the revised July re-opening date, which takes account of the current river conditions and a prudent provision for unforeseen delays. However, further long periods of flooding and fast river flow would inevitably push back the completion date. We have said many times we very much regret the inconvenience to those who normally use our bridge: however, it has to be reconstructed and the job is being done as quickly as possible.
Geoff, apologies I wasn't questioning your PM skills, more the party you'd brought in to oversee the project on your organisation's behalf. I think i speak on behalf of all of the residents on the wrong side of the bridge when i say that 'reasonably confident' is not a measureable answer - your reasonable versus anyone else's could be very different things. I refer back to my point about penalty clauses - has anything been invoked? I start a building project in 2 weeks and our builder has just given us an extra £2k bill for additional petrol costs due to material transport for April, May and June, July following yesterday's news.
What is happening with the fete in Pangbourne this year - will it still be happening - this brings a large amount of people to the village?
We explain on the Reconstruction page that the Contract model we are using is NEC3 Option C – Target Price with Activity Schedule. There’s plenty of info out there on the internet about this model. Basically it’s a risk-sharing model – all the parties collaborate to complete the project successfully, and there’s a pain/gain sharing process on costs at the end. So there are no penalty clauses as such. We were advised that this was the most suitable model for the reconstruction works, as building a bridge over the Thames in winter, with the compound on the flood plain, involved many risks for a contractor. Even with this model one of the contractors who had expressed an interest in bidding for the work declined to do so because of the risks they saw when they looked at it in more detail.
The uncertainty on the July re-opening date is due mainly to the uncertainty about river levels in the Thames between now and July.
When will the river be open for boat passage?
Given that it seems work can continue even with the river traffic, would it not have been 'smarter' to schedule the whole project to start in say March 2014 thereby avoiding the rather obvious risks from flooding, rapid river flow, etc that have been a feature of our Whitchurch winter?
Although the work we are doing after 31st March can be planned around an open navigation channel, much of the work we are doing before then cannot be. So a river closure is unavoidable for most of the project whenever it’s started. We would of course have much preferred carry out all the works during the summer months, but we were not permitted to do so by the Environment Agency because of the adverse effect on river users.
I have read the updated news on the website regarding timing and the weather causing delays. I would like to know that 'rumours' suggesting water traffic must be allowed to pass by end of March. This will prevent completion as to health & safety and work will re-commence in October 2014 thus meaning no traffic for 12 months.
Michael, I think your question is answered by my reply to Barbara Legg below. River traffic will be allowed to pass at the end of Match in accordance with the EA’a requirements – this is a fact not a rumour. But as I say below, with the right planning work can and will continue and be completed whilst the navigable channel remains open. Work on the Bridge will NOT stop for 6 months.
I read in the Henley Standard last week that you had said that test bore holes were dug before the commencement of works at the bridge and that you believed it to be okay but couldn't be sure, in that you have to see what your engineers encounter as they go down. The Environment Agency, which controls the Thames, says the piles must be installed by March 31 so the river is navigable. If this does not happen, the work might have to stop for six months to avoid obstructing leisure boats over the summer. It
seems such a shame that it was not in the Pangbourne Magazine for all to see.
The Environment Agency requires the navigable channel (span 2 from the Whitchurch end) to be open as from 31st March as you rightly say. However, this does not require the Bridge works to be completed by then, and with the right planning the works can continue and be completed whilst the navigable channel remains open.
I can assure you that reconstruction work will not stop for 6 months, and as far as I am aware there is no basis for that assertion in the Henley Standard. At this stage of the works we prefer to provide information through this website so it’s current, rather than via the local Parish magazines which inevitably introduces a time lag in the dissemination of information.
Love the photo gallery. When will the time lapse film be available ?
Probably at the end of the project. We'll need to talk to our time-lapse sub-contractors about production details and editing, but we'll definitely make something available in DVD etc format for anyone who is interested.
On the radio today you gave a strong indication that the bridge is unlikely to re-open as scheduled on 14t April. Whilst this came as no surprise, I’m sure the bridge company accepts this will cause even more inconvenience to local residents and loss of business to businesses in the area.
You did indicate the contractors are confident of making up time, however, given your comments regarding the potential impact of inclement weather etc., I didn’t feel you were that confident this would actually be achieved.
Given the length of time this project has been in the planning, I would have thought the ‘issues’ that have apparently caused the delay thus far would have been considered and addressed in the planning stages and a level of contingency in respect of the time to complete the contract would have been allowed for. Similarly the likely impact weather conditions may have. Was this not the case?
I think it not unreasonable to ask you to share with us all, residents and businesses alike, the plans the contractors have put to you as their employer as to how they are going to achieve the target re-opening date as, thus far, their performance does not give most of us any confidence this will actually be achieved.
Graham, we include a paragraph in the Key Dates section on our Reconstruction page explaining the reason for the delays and what is being done to recoup time that has been lost. The contractor’s plan included a prudent provision for planning and carrying out the demolition, but as things turned out this was insufficient. Similarly, there was a provision for bad weather, but this has been used up by the demolition delays, hence my comment that any weather delays may have a direct effect on the re-opening date as there is no remaining contingency time remaining.
The Whitchurch Bridge Company as the employer, our project managers, our designers and the main contractor all remain committed to completing the works and re-opening the Bridge as soon as possible. However, this is not a straightforward project and it is not always possible to foresee problems that emerge as the work progresses.
Do we have a revised opening date yet Mr Weir?
Barbara, we will continue to provide up to date information about the works on this website. If and when there is anything to announce which affects the 14th April re-opening date you can be sure we will put it on our Home page straight away, as it is obviously a very important date for everyone.
I have heard that the project is some six weeks behind schedule. Can you dispell this rumour.?
As in any project of this sort unexpected events occur and part of the contractor's job is to review and modify his Project Plan to mitigate the effects of any delay or change in method. Now that the demolition issue has been resolved the contractor is currently carrying out such a review: when this process is complete we will have a better idea of what delay if any there will be to the completion of the Project.
Hi Geoff - Got a bit of a shock this evening (17:45) when passed by a large motorbike coming over the footbridge. It was being driven slowly but it's an accident waiting to happen. Anything that can be done about this?
Mark, we want to help as many people as possible by allowing bicycles and small motorbikes to be pushed over the Bridge, but this does rely on everyone co-operating. As I said below, peer pressure can help - if we all challenged those riding bikes etc, they might get the message.
Geoff, good to see the footbridge open albeit many cyclists and motor cyclists alike appear to ignore the "cyclists dismount" sign! The improved lighting at the entrance/exit of the footbridge on the whitchurch side of the bridge is appreciated. The lighting on the Pangbourne side still gives me personally some concerns. From comments mad by our clients, there is some reluctance to walk over at night as a consequence. As a goodwill gesture, could 3 or 4 lights be installed either on the fence or perhaps scaffolding pipes opposite the Dolphin centre to improve the situation and make us all feel just a little safer. I'm sure it would be appreciated by all.
When our contractor's tree surgeons are back on site we'll arrange for them to trim the trees around the lights on the Pangbourne approach road - this should improve the lighting in this area. We'll see how that works before deciding on any additional lighting. As regards cyclists, peer pressure helps - I just walked over the footbridge and the pedestrian in front of me made a cyclist dismount! Also, our Bridge Manager walks over several times a day to help enforce the "no cycling" rule.
Hello. When will the new footbridge open please? Will the ply board intersections remain?
We'd hoped that the footbridge would be open by now Paul, but you may have noticed that further work is being carried out on the "infills" ie the gaps between the spans. Ply board will be part of the construction material. The footbridge should be open by the end of the week.
Could you give us much more info on the new bridge? Artist's impression? Width, weight restrictions? Retaining the existing pillars? Any higher? I've known boats have their jackstaffs removed at high tide. Still same white colour? etc. etc.
I was born in Pangbourne and swam by the side of this bridge every summer. I found it amazing what is happening with the bridge - will it still look the same when work is complete ?
Glad you found our website Ann, and hope you have happy memories of Pangbourne. The reconstructed Bridge will look the same, except that it will look much smarter with the side girders refurbished and repainted.
As the bridge company has failed to open the footbridge as promised and foot traffic must walk over the bridge in the dark, do you not think it prudent to light the many obstacles that you have created to walk around. You are expecting members of the public to basically walk through a construction site with no hazard lights, warming etc. Surely a health and safety survey would not allow this to happen?
I've just had a walk over the Bridge. The Bridge itself is adequately lit and the excavation etc are properly fenced off with warning lights. So I see no H&S issues here. However, both our pavement lights on the Pangbourne approach road, and the one by the Toll Booth, are not working, so these areas are unlit, which is unacceptable. I've asked our contractor to check and rectify these lights asap.
I would just like to say how well the system worked through goring this morning, the first day. The parking restrictions in goring are very welcome as the run up to the traffic lights is always a very dangerous affair. I would also ask please to quantify "small motorbikes" as I am possibly going to buy one specifically to get to work as my current bike too big and heavy to push over the bridge. Many thanks.
Graham, thanks you for your positive comments about the traffic arrangements. The credit goes to the highways authorities, who in conjunction with the local Parish Councils planned the parking restrictions etc.
As regards what is a "small" motorbike for the footbridge, I would suggest one that is not too heavy to push and control OK taking account of other footbridge users.
What provision has been made for stopping/dropping off people & turning a car near the bridge, thinking specifically of commuters heading to Pangbourne from Whitchurch.
In collaboration with Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council and Oxfordshire County Council, Whitchurch High Street will be kept clear right down to the Toll Booth, and there will be space there to drop off and turn round.
While i commend the lovely staff at the toll,it is a shame that you have put the fare up so steeply. I travel to Langtree with my autistic son everyday and it is just another cost to bear on top of petrol. I do hope this will be the last rise for a while Kind Regards kAREN iSON
Karen, thank you for your kind comments about our Toll Collectors.
The increase in the Bridge Card Toll from next April will be the first since 2010. I accept that no-one likes price increases (and the Company have seen many since 2010)but unfortunately they are sometimes necessary. Under current legislation we cannot increase our cash toll from 40p without getting approval from the Government, and we have agreed with the local Parish Councils that the Bridge Card Toll will not exceed 30p until we can increase the cash Toll to more than 40p.
To raise a point with Mr Weir..
Had the bridge become unsafe, surely the Dept of Transport would have taken to effect repairs and/or replacement, thereby negating the need for a toll bridge?
Had the Bridge become unsafe it would have closed immediately. If the Bridge had become unsafe because the Company had failed in its legal duty to maintain the Bridge, there would probably have been a long period of legal arguments about the future of the Company and how the Bridge could be brought back into use. The DfT would not get directly involved in repairs (they only do trunk routes) and even if the Bridge was "taken over" by say Oxfordshire County Council, then the Tolls may well remain (as with the Itchen Bridge at Southampton).
Please could you tell me why the bridge company will not be compensating local businesses (the Ferryboat and Greyhound) during the rebuilding? as they will lose passing trade, not to mention Christmas trade.
At least you offer FREE advertising for these businesses for the period of the works
Tony, compensating others who may be indirectly affected by your works is not the way these things things happen. In this respect the Bridge Company is operating no differently than say Oxfordshire County Council. If we didn't close the Bridge temporarily for reconstruction it would close permanently because it would become unsafe, which would of course be far more damaging.
However, we do sympathise with The Ferryboat and The Greyhound, and have had constructive discussions with both on how we can make sure that prospective customers on the Pangbourne side will know they are open and easily accessible on foot. This may include "free" advertising space on the footbridge.
Can you confirm the legality of pushing a motor vehicle on a footpath? Is the temporary footbridge defined as a footpath or is it essentially just private land with public right of way? My understanding is that the law is unclear in these matters and may be open to interpretation either way.
The temporary footbridge will not be a footpath in the legal sense. The Company hopes to be able to allow reasonable use of the footbridge by as many people as possible, including those pushing bicycles and small motorbikes. We'll see how it goes.
Will I still be able to park in Whitchurch opposite the Greyhound Pub in order to walk across the bridge to the doctor/bank/butcher/PO etc? I have heard rumours of serious parking restrictions but it would seem unnecessary to prevent parking here where it has always been... It will be even more important for me since I live at the top of the hill and I am having a baby in early October that I will need to get to the doctor at the Boathouse surgery. Although I wouldn't mind a walk from time to time, getting the pram up that top section could be a 'mare at times and in bad weather... I see no need to drive all the way around just to pop to the shops for 30 mins!
Claire, parking arrangements and restrictions in Whitchurch-on-Thames while the Bridge is closed are being managed by Oxfordshire County Council in consultation with Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council - the Bridge Company has no influence on what parking restrictions will be imposed. I think it's fair to say that no-one quite knows what parking will be like when the Bridge closes - it may be that you'll be able to park opposite the Greyhound which will obviously be more convenient for you.
Will the traffic lights at Streatley by the Bull PH be adjusted to allow traffic from Pangbourne to turn right towards Goring without having to wait for traffic coming from the Cholsey direction to clear.
Alan, as part of its Planning Permission the Company has paid for West Berkshire Council to install better controls at these traffic lights to help improve the flow of traffic. We understand these changes have already been implemented and are currently being fine-tuned. If you want more details I suggest you contact West Berkshire Council.
Horrified by the cutting down of and butchery of the trees to 'allow' the temporary bridge construction. Cannot find any reference to this in planning apart from one tree on land by the surgery.
The tree works were agreed with the landowners and with South Oxfordshire District Council as the local planning authority. It is necessary to set the temporary footbridge back from the main Bridge to allow space for the river craft which will carry the plant to reconstruct the Bridge, which means that some trees overhanging the river have to be cut back. It would of course have been preferable to avoid any tree works, but unfortunately that has not been possible.
Will there be a weight limit on the temporary footbridge. Will I be permitted to push my bike across.
It is our intention, Clive, to allow pedestrians to wheel pedal bicycles and small motorbikes across the footbridge. We'll monitor how this works to see if we need to define what we mean by "small". The footbridge will be slightly wider than originally planned so this will help ensure there is enough room for everyone including those pushing bikes/motorbikes.
There will be no weight limit restricting normal use of the temporary footbridge.
Have TWBC put safeguards in place to ensure the contractors deliver the project on time? Presumably there are punitive charges for every day they're late reopening the bridge? Presumably there is sufficient time built into your plan to allow for bad weather? Also, how do you intend to prevent the contractor's compound flooding in the winter?
Andrew, the Company has let the Contract in accordance with the appropriate variant within the NEC3 framework to ensure that, so far as is possible taking account of risks which include but are not confined to high water flows and levels, the project is delivered on time and to budget. This includes measures to raise the contractor's compound, and the structures on it, to an appropriate height above expected flood levels.
There are more details on the Reconstruction page of this website.
Is it possible to publish the project plan (gantt chart) showing the tasks and completion status for each task? It would be good to understand how the contractor is getting on. Thanks.
Andrew, we won't be publishing the full Project Plan - it includes over 350 activities and is too complicated for most people to interpret correctly. However, I will look at the Works Timetable section and see if we can include some more detailed information that might be of interest eg when the side girders are due to be lifted out.
Would you consider offering a yearly pass for local residents?
Katie, we decided some time ago not to give any concessions specifically for local people, mainly because of the difficulty in defining "local" and enforcement issues. We do offer a Frequent User Scheme to all Bridge users which gives unlimited crossings for a fixed monthly payment: this is now closed to new applicants as the Bridge is closing soon, but we will restart it when the Bridge re-opens next April.
Will sat nav companies be informed of the bridge closure? Non locals will not be aware of it and may get upset. Will there be diversion signs and how long is the diversion?
Mark, good point re satnavs: this came up at the Whitchurch Annual Parish Meeting back in April, and we will be informing the satnav companies of the closure as from 3rd October. Diversion signage will be up well in advance of the closure: details of the signs and locations are on the Reconstruction page of this website. The diversionary routes via Streatley or Caversham cross the Thames about 5 miles away from Whitchurch: the extra mileage for your journey will depend on where you start and finish.
Will boats be stopped from using whitchurch lock whilst the work takes place?
Alison, yes. The Environment Agency will be closing the river from Whitchurch Lock to a point 100m downstream of the site compound (ie roughly where the concrete landing stage is now) on Pangbourne meadow from 2nd November 2013 to 31st March 2014. This is necessary for the safety reasons, as there will be heavy plant on pontoons being moved around the bridge and work being carried out above the water.
The Company carried out a survey earlier on in this process to ascertain where users started and finished their journeys. What was the outcome of this survey and how were the results used? Thank you.
Oxfordshire County Council carried out a "number plate" survey in July 2011 which involved recording number plates at several locations in the area, and then analysing the results to ascertain current traffic patterns and to predict preferred diversionary routes.
The Whitchurch Bridge Company carried out another survey in March 2013. The Report on this is on the Reconstruction page of this website, under Drawings and Reports.
Both surveys were used by the Highways Authorities to decide upon preferred diversionary routes, signage, and parking restriction to help traffic flow freely.
Is it true that when the bridge reopens in April 2014 you will be putting up the prices yet again?
The cash Toll will remain at 40p (which is unchanged since 2009) unless and until we successfully apply to the Government for a Toll increase. The concessionary Bridge Card Toll will increase from 20p (which is unchanged since 2010)to 29.4 in April 2014. This will not increase again until we are given permission to raise the cash Toll.
if taxi crossing the bridge is pay or not if pay how much to pay each side
Could temporary traffic lights not be used to allow one directional motor car travel across the temporary bridge? This would reduce the problem of access and diversions to get across the bridge to Whitchurch Hill and Hardwick Road areas. Minimal tolls could still be charged for this.
The temporary bridge is a footbridge only, with a width of only 1.5 m (5 ft). To make this temporary bridge wide enough and strong enough for vehicles, and to connect it to the approach roads, would be practically very difficult and add enormously to the cost. So the temporary bridge has to be for pedestrians only.
How do I find out why the compund was positioned where it is and how it is aligned with the bridge and river?
Tony - Thank you for your interest in the reconstruction of our Bridge. I've just put the Construction Management Plan document in the Drawings and Reports section of the Bridge Reconstruction page. This explains why we planned for the compound to be where it is, and how we expect it be used.
How many cars cross per week? Also how many vehicles over 3.5 TONNES MGW per week?
Very pleased to read the new bridge wiil look the same as the exeisting one.D0n,t let a European directive interfere! I grew up in Pangbourne (1930-1964)and have many happy memories of swimming in the river and having picnics in the meadowa.
This is where I was proposed to on 10th July, 2011, beside the bridge, looking out over the river to the beautiful weeping willow. So romantic...the answer was YES!
Why are you starting to re-build in October? This is the start of winter with shorter day light hours so the working day will be heavily curtailed plus the inclemate weather that winter brings. Surely a spring start would be much more appropriate and beneficial.
George - I wish we could start the reconstuction in Spring for the reasons you mention. But the Environment Agency won't let us - they do not want the recreational use of the river around the Bridge to be curtailed during the pleasure boat season.
My wife and I have a disagreement on the toll in 1992 - she says 2p, I say 6. Is there is history of charges over the years ?
Very nice & handy bridge
As you are retaining the toll collectors why spend money now on a new system. Surely it would have been better to put the money towards the rebuilding costs and incorporate the changes then.
The prices for the bridge are ridiculous for just a bridge! But a godd site explaining about the bridge!
I used to have a chore of a commute into London for my work. Even a short queue at the Bridge is a real pleasure, such beautiful surroundings and friendly staff. Keep up the good work.
I found this site via the Reading Chronicle site via the BBC Berkshire site! It's great to be able to read all about the bridge's history and the plans for its replacement. We love the bridge and enjoy taking visitors across it when showing them the beautiful countryside around Pangbourne & Whitchurch. Hopefully the new bridge will be in keeping with the area and the tolls will not have to be raised too much to pay for the work.