06:00PM, Saturday 05 November 2016
Traffic chaos caused by the closure of Marlow Bridge looks set to continue after engineers had to bring in a specialist barge to aid investigations.
On Monday morning a boat was moored underneath the historic structure so that workmen could begin further tests.
It has been closed to traffic since a lorry more than 10 times the official weight limit attempted to cross on Saturday, September 24.
The barge will allow ultrasound and magnetic particle tests to be carried out on the road deck to assess fully and examine the damage caused.
The latest round of assessments is expected to take about two weeks – including the time it takes to scrape away decades worth of paint to expose the original metalwork.
In the current worst case scenario being considered by Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC), which is responsible for Marlow Bridge, it will remain shut for another 20 weeks after all tests have been completed.
This would include 12 weeks for the manufacture of bespoke parts and a further eight weeks to install them.
Mark Shaw, BCC cabinet member for transport, said: “I’m very grateful for the utmost care our engineers have taken with their tests, which I know is exactly what people would expect of us.
“This bridge is special to Marlow and Bisham, and residents I spoke to as we watched the barge move into position appreciated the measures we’ve taken to ensure no further damage is caused.
“We’re nearing the final analysis report, and as soon as we’re able, we want to get repairs underway to make the bridge safe and secure for vehicles.”
Last week, a group of Marlow businesses frustrated by loss of revenue they believe is caused by the bridge’s closure said it was considering taking Girteka, the Lithuanian firm which had admitted responsibility for the damage, to court.
Visit www.facebook.com/marlowbridgeupdates for the latest on the status of the bridge.
Marlow Town Council is doing its bit to promote the town, despite the damage caused to trade by the bridge’s closure.
As well as setting up signs on roads around Marlow with the message ‘Marlow Town Centre is fully open for business', it has also produced its own leaflet to show different routes into the town and list public transport options.
Visit www.marlowtowncouncil.org.uk for details.