A52 Clifton Bridge may reopen ahead of schedule

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Clifton BridgeImage source, Google
Image caption,
Clifton Bridge is technically two bridges crossing the River Trent in Nottingham

The full reopening of a bridge that provides one of the main routes in and out of Nottingham could happen earlier than expected, road bosses have said.

The A52 Clifton Bridge has been partially closed since February due to corrosion in its steel structure.

The closure led to severe congestion before the coronavirus lockdown drastically reduced city traffic.

Highways England previously said it was unlikely to reopen before next year but now believes it could happen sooner.

Image caption,
The sudden closure caused traffic chaos across Nottingham

Congestion caused by the closure of Clifton Bridge - technically two bridges across the River Trent - saw Nottingham briefly become the most congested city in the world.

Three of four lanes taking traffic away from the city are currently closed but Highways England said some could reopen as early as autumn.

Regional director Catherine Brookes said: "We are hoping that by the end of the year we'll have four lanes in each direction.

"We're trying to better that and I'd like to think we can possibly achieve more lanes outbound by the end of November."

Image source, Highways England
Image caption,
Three out of four outbound lanes have been closed since February
Image source, Highways England
Image caption,
Engineers have had to work in hollow boxes underneath the road

Ms Brookes said investigation work had continued despite the coronavirus lockdown and the operation was now moving to a new phase in which sections of steel and concrete would be replaced.

"It [coronavirus] hasn't made any difference to the speed at which we've been able to do this work," she said.

"Some of the investigation work needed to be carried out inside hollow boxes which required people being in confined spaces close together, in a dark, dusty, damp environment.

"It was very challenging at the beginning of the work but that was actually before the social distancing restrictions came into force, so we were quite lucky that we managed to get most of that work done."

Image source, Highways England
Image caption,
There will also be lane closures beneath the bridge while repairs are completed

Highways England said repairs were expected to continue until February but the latter stages would not require lane closures on the A52.

However, Clifton Lane, which runs beneath the bridge, will be reduced from four lanes to two from the weekend of 20 and 21 June until repairs are complete.

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