Two-way traffic should return to rail bridge on the Newmarket Road into Bury St Edmunds by Easter 2017 – 40 months after restrictions began.
Traffic lights controlling single-lane use were installed on the vital bridge into Bury in December 2013 to reduce the load on it because it was found to be suffering ‘significant structural weakness’.
Work began in January this year and was scheduled until the end of March, but if drivers thought that would be the end of rush hour misery they were wrong. The lights stayed in place and Westley village continued to suffer as more motorists used it as an alternative route.
Last week James Finch, Suffolk County Council’s transport portfolio holder, confirmed that a scaffolding scheme had finally been agreed with Network Rail and its three-week installation would begin this month.
Cllr Finch said he has raised the bridge in meetings at Westminster and added: “I’ve formally requested that the process for how we go through these things for scaffolding over railways needs to be speeded up.”
He added: “Once the scaffolding is in place the strengthening works to the edges of the deck can be undertaken and it is hoped the work will be completed before Christmas, but this is dependent on variables such as weather.
“The scaffolding will then be removed and strengthening of the deck slab will then commence.”
Most of the work will be done with single-way traffic flow continuing but a six-week road closure will be required, with a date to be confirmed.
Cllr Finch added: “The road should be open in time for the Easter weekend.
“We understand there will be an impact on motorists but every effort will be made to optimise traffic flow on the diversion route to minimise delays.”
Network Rail said organising when work could take place to suit the county’s contractors and the rail companies using the line was ‘complicated’.
A spokeswoman said: “We have tried to offer closures already but we have to work with the rail companies on the best times to do the work and the contractors have to discuss whether they can do the work in that time – we’ve got to get everybody to agree.
“Say work takes place over a weekend – what we can’t have is to have it in a dangerous state on the Monday.”