Sidmouth councillors back ‘seriously needed’ Alma Bridge replacement after new design revealed

PUBLISHED: 13:52 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:52 08 September 2017

The new proposals for Alma Bridge

The new proposals for Alma Bridge

Archant

Further new plans have been drawn up to replace Alma Bridge that will not impact on the green space at the Ham.

The new proposals will see the circled steps filled in to create a new ramped access to the replacement for Alma BridgeThe new proposals will see the circled steps filled in to create a new ramped access to the replacement for Alma Bridge

Devon County Council (DCC) faced a hefty bill from South West Water (SWW) to divert its sewer pipes, so it is now looking at using the walkway on the west of the River Sid.

Ham trustees Sidmouth Town Council this week supported the new plans and necessary drilling work so the bridge can be replaced as soon as possible.

Nick Jennings, DCC’s principle bridge engineer, told Monday’s meeting: “Last time we spoke about a bridge taking up part of the Ham and slightly further upstream, with a ramp structure to minimise the impact.

“We’ve undertaken surveys and consulted and SWW aren’t particularly happy that it would impair their future maintenance of the pipes.

The new proposals for Alma BridgeThe new proposals for Alma Bridge

“They would be happy to divert – but when I saw the quotation it would have blown our budget out of the water.

“We’ve moved the bridge further downstream; it’s a slight compromise. It will still last 30 to 40 years. The impact on the Ham is zero but there’s an impact on the riverside walkway.”

Mr Jennings said work on the bridge, 40 metres upstream of the existing structure, was still billed for next year but there are a number of hoops to jump through.

Among these is a consultation on the introduction of steps to a route that is currently accessible by wheelchair – but a survey of 20,000 users of the 1:6 gradient Hanger Path showed the vast majority were pedestrians.

The new proposals will see the circled steps filled in to create a new ramped access to the replacement for Alma BridgeThe new proposals will see the circled steps filled in to create a new ramped access to the replacement for Alma Bridge

There were fewer than 100 cyclists, 10 to 15 people with prams and just one or two on mobility scooters.

The bridge itself would have a 1:12 gradient.

Town clerk Christopher Holland said the new designs fitted better with existing infrastructure. He explained that instead of the steps going down to the riverside walkway, they would go up to the bridge.

Town council chairman Ian McKenzie-Edwards described the new designs as an ‘acceptable compromise’, adding: “One has concern with any public access but we seriously need the new bridge.”

Councillor David Barratt said: “Fantastic, great – get on with it, please. It’s just what we need.”

Members voted to support the drilling of boreholes, which will be necessary for geotechnical surveys.


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