SPLOTT Road Bridge will close as planned in February despite the collapse of contractor Carillion, Network Rail has said.
Splott Road Bridge is being demolished and raised to prepare for the electrification of the South Wales Mainline between London and Cardiff.
Work began in spring 2017. Since then, the bridge has operated on a single-lane basis, only closing fully in August as the lane carrying traffic from Adamsdown to Splott was demolished, raised and rebuilt.
Engineers will now demolish and rebuild the second lane, meaning the bridge will close fully from February 4th – 27th.
The rail company has been speaking to businesses and residents about the upcoming closure, and the loud piling work due to take place over the next month.
Some don’t mind the disturbance.
“Improvement is always good, especially in areas that have great potential but feel forgotten. Like everything it takes time and co-operation,” said Claudia Pinto, owner of Amazonas Portuguese and Brazilian Street Food on Clifton Street, near to the bridge.
Her business slowed last time the bridge was closed, but it was “nothing dramatic”, she said.
“It will deter some people from coming purely because the disturbance it may cause, but Network Rail has been out and about informing and is open to any queries from local businesses and the community.”
Ana Martins from Portuguese bakery Nata & Co on Clifton Street also said the work wouldn’t affect them too much.
“It will not affect our sales, and we are not worried at all,” she said, adding that there are plenty of ways for customers to reach them.
“This kind of work needs to be done, for our safety,” she said.
But for others, the effect has been more dramatic.
The Bakers Dozen is an independent bakery and restaurant supplier on Splott Road. It sits close to the bridge – so close, in fact, that the barriers and signs partially obscure the shop front.
Manager Vanessa Poole said staff are extremely worried about the next few weeks.
“Financially, we have lost out big time because of the closure of the bridge,” she said. “Last time it was fully closed, the shop was completely dead.”
Even with the bridge partially open, Ms Poole claims business has suffered.
“Our trade has been down at least 35 per cent since last April. Nobody can park near the shop, and there have been times when customers couldn’t even get in,” said Ms Poole.
“I’ve lost two members of staff, because there wasn’t enough work for them.”
The number of vehicles taking up space on the adjacent Railway Street is also making life more difficult for residents.
Ms Poole lives on Railway Street and says it can sometimes be impossible to find space to park close to home.
“They can park anywhere. There was no consideration for residents,” she said.
The bridge was scheduled to reopen fully in August, and Network Rail says they still expect to meet this deadline despite contractor Carillion going into liquidation.
“Carillion’s work for Network Rail continues for the time being as Network Rail works with the official receiver and special manager to ensure the continuity of its project work,” said Steve Keighley, programme manager for Network Rail in Wales and Borders.
“Our aim is to ensure, as far as possible, that this news has as little impact as possible on our projects to grow and expand the railway network.”
Network Rail workers visited every business on Clifton Street on Wednesday, January 17th, and will be doing the same on Splott Road tomorrow (January 24th).
“The businesses on Clifton Street were supportive of the work we are delivering on the bridge,” said Mr Keighley.
It will also be holding a drop-in session at Carlisle Bakery on Splott Road between 3pm and 6pm for anyone with questions or concerns about the project.
“The support of the local community and their elected representatives has been really important throughout the planning and delivery of the Splott Road Bridge reconstruction. We are keen to listen to and learn from people’s feedback, which is why we host drop-ins and street surgeries ahead of major phases of work,” said Mr Keighley.
Ms Poole said she appreciated the company’s effort with local businesses.
“Network Rail do keep in contact with us and keep us up to date,” she said.
“The shop owner and I both understand that the work has to be done, and I don’t think they could have done anything differently, but it has still had a massive effect on us.”
For more information on the bridge upgrade, contact Network Rail’s 24-Hour helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or email CRWales@networkrail.co.uk.