£50m needed to fix crumbling bridge in Woodford

A vital bridge in Woodford that has been closed since last year will need to be rebuilt at a cost of “£50million”, the leader of Redbridge Council has said.

Broadmead Bridge is an important east-west road link that carries a section of Broadmead Road over the Central Line, which cuts through the centre of Woodford.

It was closed to all traffic in July last year when it emerged that its cracked concrete was falling onto the tube tracks and the structure’s internal metal reinforcements had become corroded.

Council leader Jas Athwal now says that the bridge is “life expired” and has asked the government for financial support to rebuild it at a cost of about £50m.

This follows a council petition sent to thousands of local residents last year which called for “urgent funding” from the government to fix the bridge.

However, a spokesperson for the Department for Transport told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) the bridge is Redbridge’s property and responsibility.

They said: “The London Borough of Redbridge owns Broadmead Bridge and it is for them to determine the best course of action to repair and maintain.”

Cllr Athwal’s written request for “urgent financial support” from secretary of state for transport Mark Harper is yet to receive a response, the spokesperson added.

1,000 residents have now signed an online petition calling for “immediate reopening” of the road, arguing that the community has been thrown into “absolute chaos” due to the lack of alternative routes.

Deviani Pitrola wrote: “The closure of Broadmead Road has severely impacted our daily lives, causing immense inconvenience and frustration.

“Commuters, school children, and local businesses are all suffering from this sudden disruption in transportation.”

Redbridge Council says each night surveyors have been carrying out hammer tapping inspections of the bridge during one-and-a-half to two hour windows permitted by Transport for London (TfL).

While the bridge is “open for pedestrian use”, whether cyclists and motorbikes can use it remains “under consideration”.

In a recent debate, Cllr Athwal said the government would be mistaken to think the council has the funding needed “down the back of a sofa”.

The leader said the cost of repairs are “unfeasible” for Redbridge, which has lost “around 63%” of government funding since 2010.

However, Conservative group leader Paul Canal suggested the council should take out a long-term loan to pay for the repairs to avoid it remaining closed for “5, 10, or 20 years”.

As early as 2014, TfL – which inspects structures travelling over its network – raised concerns about the bridge and warned Redbridge Council that failure to take action would result in “injury or service loss with the ensuing legal actions”.

In recent years Redbridge appears to have carried out repair work and has already installed a propping up structure under the bridge on the eastern side of the Central Line tracks.

But in July last year, following another TfL warning about defects and repairs that were “beginning to fail”, the bridge was closed.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter