CASTLE Cary railway bridge is now fully reopen to traffic after almost five months of repairs.
The A321 fully reopened on Monday, and Network Rail has almost completed its £1.2m improvement scheme to significantly strengthen the Ansford bridge.
The bridge now boasts a new 235 square metre concrete deck with all its steel elements repainted to protect the structure from corrosion.
Railway staff have clocked more than 9,000 hours since work began in July and have been working round the clock where possible to minimise disruption. An encapsulation structure was installed to protect the environment and allow works to continue despite poor weather conditions last month.
With final road surfacing now complete, Network Rail has reopened both lanes of the A371 with only minor items to finish before all the work is complete.
Paddy Gregg, route delivery director for Network Rail Western, said: “We’d like to thank the community for their patience to enable us to complete this essential work on time and to plan.
“With the bridge work now completed, the community will now be able to gain from a much stronger structure that can carry up to 40 tonnes of road traffic.
“This also means a safer and more reliable infrastructure to support highway and rail services for many years to come.”
Road users have been able to access one lane of the A371 since November 18, but the closure has reportedly cost the local economy millions of pounds.
The resulting 32-mile diversion for goods vehicles has resulted in over £1 million in costs for just eight major local businesses, and the cumulative effect on smaller businesses has been calculated as a further £1 million at least. Additional costs have also been borne by local residents in hugely increased journey times and inconvenience.
Somerton and Frome MP David Heath discussed the issues surrounding the closing of the Ansford railway bridge near Castle Cary station and the diversion of traffic wanting to use the A371 in Parliament.