STOCKTON-on-Tees Borough Council has responded to local residents’ concerns by revising its plans for bus diversions during work to replace a bridge on one of the Borough’s busiest roads.
The Council, in partnership with the Environment Agency, plans to replace Londonderry Bridge on Durham Road in a scheme that will reduce the flood risk to around 150 properties in the Lustrum Beck area.
But the Council reviewed its initial proposals to divert buses along Londonderry Road and Castlereagh Road for the six month duration of the scheme after safety concerns were raised by local residents.
Now, after meeting with residents and liaising with bus operators, the Council has identified an alternative diversion taking in existing bus routes on Maple Road, Myrtle Road, Appleton Road and the A177 bypass into Stockton town centre.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, Councillor Nigel Cooke, said: “We have always said this is a difficult situation because the benefit of replacing the bridge is that it will protect residents in around 150 homes from flooding.
“These are people who have suffered the ordeal of having to be evacuated from their homes by dinghy in the middle of the night, and then having to put right the horrific damage to their homes. It’s hard to imagine how that must feel and how it must feel to fear it happening again.
“This is why the replacement of the bridge is necessary, but alongside that we have also been keen to consider the views of those people affected by the bus diversions. We heard a lot of concerns at a public meeting with residents in January and soon afterwards, we put the scheme on hold while we took a step back to reassess things.
“Since then, we’ve been talking to local residents and the bus operators to identify a solution, and are particularly pleased with the way Arriva has recognised its responsibility for our communities and worked with us to find diversions which best meet the needs of the customers they serve.
“It is impossible to deliver a major scheme like this without serious disruption but we think the diversion routes we’ve identified offer the best chance of keeping it to a minimum, and we will be holding further discussions with bus operators with a view to progressing on this basis.
“Work had been scheduled to start in the spring but as a result of our review of all of the options available, we now expect it to get under way in early summer.”
The replacement of Londonderry Bridge is planned as part of the wider Lustrum Beck Flood Alleviation Scheme.
The Durham Road approaches to the bridge would be closed to motorists throughout the project but a temporary footbridge for pedestrians would be available throughout.
The way the bridge is constructed has been a major contributor to serious flooding in recent years because its arches obstruct the flow of Lustrum Beck.
The Council, in partnership with the Environment Agency, plans to demolish it and replace it with a new, single span bridge that will allow water to flow freely.