Southwold - Walberswick Bailey Bridge refurbishment

Refurbishment work taking place to Bailey Bridge that crosses the River Blyth and connecting Southwold with Walberswick, from July to September 2021.

Following an independent inspection of the bridge at the end of April 2021 it was confirmed that repairs and refurbishment works were necessary. This is needed without delay to address significant defects and replace key structural members. Repair works and refurbishment need to be undertaken at the earliest opportunity to ensure the safety of the public.

The bridge is expected to be closed from 2 July until the end of September 2021 whilst the works are in progress.

Since Suffolk County Council and its local members committed funds to undertake this major refurbishment, concerted efforts have been made to engage with key stakeholders and identify ways of mitigating the impact this closure will have locally.

It has been fully recognised that the closure of this bridge at a time where lockdown is easing will present a challenge to local residents, businesses and visitors to the town. However the safety of those using the bridge has to be the priority.

In light of the impact that this closure could have on local businesses and those using the bridge for commuting purposes, a number of mitigation measures have been explored to take place during the closure.

These include:

  • £20,000 support pot that'll be administered by the local councils
  • Longer working hours and a longer working week so the work can be completed as quickly as possible – shortening the programme of work from 16 weeks to 12 weeks
  • More frequent and extra ferry services – visit walberswickferry.com for more information
  • Temporary traffic measures in Walberswick for the duration of the work to better support those travelling into the area.

Information notices detailing the closure are placed on site, and mobilisation works are set to begin to ready the site from Monday 28 June 2021, ahead of the closure of the bridge on Friday 2 July 2021.

Frequently asked questions

An inspection of the bridge took place at the end of April 2021 to understand whether or not the bridge could have been kept open during the summer peak, and for works to be delayed until September 2021, unfortunately the poor condition of key structure members and components mean that repair and refurbishment needs to be undertaken without delay.

Aside from this, works to refurbish the bridge include painting and working from pontoons and scaffolding over tidal water. These are weather-sensitive operations which need to be undertaken when conditions are suitable and temperatures not too cold, as a result of this, any work that took place later in the year would likely mean the bridge remaining closed for a much longer period of time, potentially into next summer.

Following confirmation of the budget to allow us to carry out this refurbishment; an enormous amount of work has to take place to inspect the structure, seek out consents to work, design and engage with contractors to deliver the work on the ground. The county council arranged any preliminary work required and set to work immediately after receiving confirmation of the budget.

However the summer months are the most optimum time to carry out the works due to the mild weather conditions, any earlier cold and wet weather would have hampered operations.

The budget was not available during this period to carry out these works and the bridge was still within its two-year expectancy following temporary repairs which were carried out in December 2018.

Through our mitigation plans we aim to support the local businesses and tourist trade where possible, we will also be communicating heavily in the lead up to the closure to ensure those visiting, commuting and shopping between the towns are fully aware of the closure and are kept abreast of developments related to the refurbishment works.

Email customer.services@suffolk.gov.uk or call 0345 606 6171.