Itchen Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Itchen Bridge
Picture of the Itchen Bridge
Coordinates50°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
CarriesA3025 road (2 lanes)
CrossesRiver Itchen
LocaleSouthampton
OwnerSouthampton City Council
Preceded byNortham Bridge
Characteristics
DesignHigh-level hollow box girder
Total length800 metres (870 yd)
Height28 metres (92 ft)
Clearance aboveopen
History
Engineering design byKier Limited
Construction cost£12.174 million
Inaugurated22 March 1974 (1974-03-22)
Opened13 July 1977 (1977-07-13)
ReplacesWoolston Floating Bridge
Statistics
Tollvariable (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.[1] 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.[2] The plan for a 17 arch swing bridge was stopped by the Admiralty over concerns on the effects it would have on navigation.[2] Instead the Woolston Floating Bridge was built which opened in 1836.[2]

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.[3] Along with providing costs for a tunnel and a high level crossing he recommended a low level opening span bridge.[3]

Another planning effort was undertaken in 1936.[4] The full report took two years to compile and included sinking boreholes into the Itchen.[4] Again a low level crossing with a swinging section was the preferred option.[4] 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.[4] During World War II the construction of a pontoon bridge was briefly considered but the decision was made that the floating bridge was adequate.[5]

A further plan for a low level bridge was produced in 1947 but again work on Northam Bridge took priority.[6]

In 1955 with the work on Northam bridge complete R. Travers Morgan and Partners were commissioned to produce a report on a new bridge.[7] 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.[7] An act authorising the bridge was obtained in 1960.[7] However in 1961 Ministry of Transport announced it would not be providing financial support for the bridge which again put the project on hold.[7]

Planning[edit]

In the mid 1960s it became clear to the council that some form of action would have to be taken.[8] 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.[8] With no possibility of funding from the Ministry of Transport the council started to look into the possibility of constructing a toll bridge.[8] 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.[9] 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.[9] 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.[9] With a 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.[10] This was unpopular with motoring organisations who opposed the council's attempt to get a bill through parliament to authorise the toll bridge.[10] This opposition was overcome after debate at parliamentary committee level and the council obtained its act of parliament in July 1973.[10]

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.[11]

Construction[edit]

The bridge under construction

The ceremonial start of construction took place on 22 March 1974 with the Mayor of Southampton driving the first pile.[12]Along with basic site preparation, the first job was the construction of two jetties, one from each bank, to the position in the Itchen where the two piers in the river would be built.[13] The jetty from the east bank was built first with the one on the west bank being delayed by the need to fill in an area of shallow water known as the Chapel Inlet.[13]

Once preparation was complete 100ft long piles were driven into the ground.[14] Transport limitations meant the piles had to be brought in in 50ft sections before being welded together onsite.[14] The piling process on the east bank of the Itchen was delayed by the piles hitting the remains of a jetty which had to be partially removed.[14] Meanwhile on the west side delays were caused after construction disturbed a poorly documented system of sewers.[14]

Once the piling was complete pile caps were added and the bridge supports constructed on top of them.[15] From the top of the bridge supports cantilevered arms were then constructed outwards.[15] They were constructed symmetrically in both directions at once in order to keep the weight on the supports balanced.[15] Once the cantilevered arms were complete the sections that spanned the gap between them were cast from concrete in the form of box beams on top of the arms before being moved into place on hydraulic bogies suspended from girders.[16] In order to balance the weight large concrete blocks were placed on the opposite arm.[16] During this period work was slowed by the 1976 British Isles heat wave and subsequent rains.[16]

Opening[edit]

The original plan was for the bridge to open on 1 May 1977 but construction fell behind schedule and instead it was opened 1 June 1977.[17][18]

Before opening to motor vehicles it was decided to hold a pedestrian only day for people to examine the bridge.[18] This was held on Tuesday 31 May 1977.[18] 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.[18] The bridge opened to motor traffic the following day, 1 June, at 10:30 with the mayoral car leading the way.[18] Former Southampton MP Horace King, Baron Maybray-King decided to celebrate by being driven across in a horse-dawn Landau.[19] Southampton's bus routes started using the bridge on 12 June.[20]

The bridge was named by HRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon Mrs Angus Ogilvy on 13 July 1977.[18] This had originally been planned as an opening ceremony but this was changed when the bridge was completed before that date.[18]

Maintenance and changes[edit]

In 2011 the bridge lighting was switched to white LEDs with Blue LEDs placed on the uprights.[21]

As part of the bridge's maintenance eight expansion joints were replaced in March 2016.[22]

Toll[edit]

Itchen Bridge toll booths

At the Woolston end a toll booth operates daily. Southampton City Council levies a variable toll,[23] 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.[24][10] The loans to pay for the bridge were paid off in 2016.[24][25] In the early part of the 40 year period this took a large part of the loan repayments were met from Southampton Council's general funds but in later years the tolls delivered a surplus.[25][26] The toll remains to control the traffic in the areas surrounding the bridge and to cover the ongoing maintenance of the bridge with money beyond what is needed for maintenance going to general council funds.[25]

There is a local myth that there was a promise to scrap the toll once the bridge had been paid for but this is not the case.[10][25]

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. ^ Hamilton, Keith (3 June 2013). "Itchen Bridge in Southampton opened 36 years ago this month". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 14–17.
  3. ^ a b Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 30–31.
  4. ^ a b c d Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 35–37.
  5. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 38.
  6. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 39.
  7. ^ a b c d Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 40–49.
  8. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 50–53.
  9. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 54–56.
  10. ^ a b c d e Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 82–94.
  11. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 95.
  12. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 97–99.
  13. ^ a b Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 100–102.
  14. ^ a b c d Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 104–106.
  15. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 106–107.
  16. ^ a b c Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 109–112.
  17. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 117.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 113–116.
  19. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 117.
  20. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 119–120.
  21. ^ "Itchen Bridge in Southampton to get power-saving lights". BBC News. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Essential works to Itchen Bridge". southampton.gov.uk. Southampton City Council. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  23. ^ Toll charges Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ a b Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : The story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. pp. 122–123.
  25. ^ a b c d Franklin, James (26 November 2014). "The Itchen Bridge has raked in more than £22million in just seven years". Daily Echo. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  26. ^ Itchen Bridge Tolls Review: Report of the County Surveyor Archived 23 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]