Itchen Bridge

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Itchen Bridge
Picture of the Itchen Bridge
Coordinates 50°53′56″N 1°23′05″W / 50.8988°N 1.3847°W / 50.8988; -1.3847Coordinates: 50°53′56″N 1°23′05″W / 50.8988°N 1.3847°W / 50.8988; -1.3847
Carries A3025 road (2 lanes)
Crosses River Itchen
Locale Southampton
Owner Southampton City Council
Preceded by Northam Bridge
Characteristics
Design High-level hollow box girder
Total length 800 metres (870 yd)
Height 28 metres (92 ft)
Clearance above open
History
Engineering design by Kier Limited
Construction cost £12.174 million
Inaugurated 22 March 1974 (1974-03-22)
Opened 13 July 1977 (1977-07-13)
Replaces Woolston Floating Bridge
Statistics
Toll variable (based on vehicle type)
Itchen Bridge is located in Southampton
Itchen Bridge
Itchen Bridge
Location in Southampton

The Itchen Bridge is a bridge over the River Itchen in Southampton, Hampshire. It is a high-level hollow box girder bridge. It is located about a mile from the river mouth. The bridge spans 870 yards (800 m), is 92 feet (28 m) at its highest point and weighs 62,000 tons.[citation needed] The bridge connects the A3025 Portsmouth Road to Southampton. It was built to replace the former chain ferry, known as the Floating Bridge, that crossed the river at that point. The bridge's set of blue energy-saving lights can be seen from up to 5 miles (8.0 km) down Southampton Water from the bridge.

History[edit]

Prior efforts[edit]

The first attempt to build a crossing below Northam Bridge began in 1833.[1] The plan for a 17 arch swing bridge was stopped by the Admiralty over concerns on the effects it would have on navigation.[1] Instead the Woolston Floating Bridge was built which opened in 1836.[1]

In 1926, in the context of the construction of the Queensway Tunnel under the River Mersey, Southampton council hired Basil Mott to investigate the various options for building a fixed crossing across the lower River Itchen.[2] Along with providing costs for a tunnel and a high level crossing he recommended a low level opening span bridge.[2]

Another planning effort was undertaken in 1936.[3] The full report took two years to compile and included sinking boreholes into the Itchen.[3] Again a low level crossing with a swinging section was the preferred option.[3] Attempts to raise funds for this bridge were delayed by the need to carry out work on Northam Bridge and then by the outbreak of World War II.[3] During World War II the construction of a pontoon bridge was briefly considered but the decision was made that the floating bridge was adequate.[4]

A further plan for a low level bridge was produced in 1947 but again work on Northam Bridge took priority.[5]

In 1955 with the work on Northam bridge complete R. Travers Morgan and Partners were commissioned to produce a report on a new bridge.[6] Two reports were produced over the following two years recommended in fixed structure with a dual carriageway and 55 feet of headroom or another with 80 feet of headroom.[6] An act authorising the bridge was obtained in 1960.[6] However in 1961 Ministry of Transport announced it would not be providing financial support for the bridge which again put the project on hold.[6]

Planning[edit]

In the mid 1960s it became clear to the council that some form of action would have to be taken.[7] The floating bridges were reaching the end of their life requiring an expensive refit or replacement and the compulsory purchase powers under the 1960 Act would expire in 1973.[7] With no possibility of funding from the Ministry of Transport the council started to look into the possibility of constructing a toll bridge.[7] The council requested a formal report on the possibility of a toll bridge from the city Engineer and Surveyor in October 1969 and the report was delivered on 12 March 1970.[8] It recommended a two lane high level bridge with 80 feet of head-space to allow ships from the dockyards upstream to pass under it.[8] A bridge with an opening span was rejected on the basis of the disruption it would cause to traffic every time it had to open.[8] With toll bridge having been decided upon it was decided it could also be used to control traffic levels over the bridge to avoid the need to significantly upgrade local roads.[9] This was unpopular with motoring organisations who opposed the council's attempt to get a bill through parliment to authorise the toll bridge.[9] This opposition was overcome after debate at parliamentary committee level and the council obtained its act of parliament in July 1973.[9]

The contract for building the bridge was then put out for tender and was awarded to the lowest bidder, Kier Group (then Kier ltd), at a price of £5,710,630.[10]

Construction[edit]

Opening[edit]

Before opening to motor vehicles it was decided to hold a pedestrian only day for people to examine the bridge.[11] This was held on Tuesday 31 May 1977.[11] The first member of the public across was the then 69 year old Mrs Edith Parks at around 13:30 with a general opening at 14:00.[11] The bridge opened to motor traffic the following day, 1 June, at 10:30 with the mayoral car leading the way.[11] Former Southampton MP Horace King, Baron Maybray-King decided to celebrate by being driven across in a horse-dawn Landau.[12]

The bridge was named by HRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon Mrs Angus Ogilvy on 13 July 1977.[11] This had originally been planned as an opening ceremony but this was changed when the bridge was completed before that date.[11]

Maintenance[edit]

As part of the bridge's maintenance eight expansion joints were replaced in March 2016.[13]

Toll[edit]

Itchen Bridge toll booths

At the Woolston end a toll booth operates daily. Southampton City Council levies a variable toll,[14] depending on vehicle type and time of day of crossing. The toll was originally charged in order to help pay the £12.174 million it cost to build and to control traffic levels.. The toll succeeded in paying for the bridge some years ago,[15] but the toll remains to control the traffic in the areas surrounding the bridge.

On 21 December 2010, it was announced that an automatic toll system would replace the staffed booth, saving over £200,000 annually. This system measures the height of the front of the vehicle and number of front wheels to judge the applicable toll for that vehicle.

See also[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 14–17. 
  2. ^ a b Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 30–31. 
  3. ^ a b c d Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 35–37. 
  4. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 38. 
  5. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 39. 
  6. ^ a b c d Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 40–49. 
  7. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 50–53. 
  8. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 54–56. 
  9. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 82–94. 
  10. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 95. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 113–116. 
  12. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 117. 
  13. ^ "Essential works to Itchen Bridge". southampton.gov.uk. Southampton City Council. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  14. ^ Toll charges Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Itchen Bridge Tolls Review: Report of the County Surveyor Archived 23 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]