Two month Mill Road Bridge closure alarms traders
Shocked traders say a plan to close a major road bridge in Cambridge for eight weeks will 'finish off' their businesses.
An upgrade to the railway line means Mill Road Bridge will be closed to traffic in May next year to enable work on the arches under the bridge, effectively shutting one of the routes into the city.
Mill Road Traders Association ambassador, Piero D’Angelico, said: “I don’t know if my shop will be here next year because after this happens it’s going to be dead.
“Morale is already really low about this news. There’s so many stressful things happening in the area every day - we have lots of people shoplifting, there is crime on the street, shops are already struggling to survive because of the losses they have and the new station has reduced footfall. So, this closure is going to finish us off. It looks like Mill Road is becoming a dead end. The local authority is not listening to us.
Council documents say an additional rail line is required by Network Rail, and to facilitate this a section of the existing bridge, approximately 20 metres long will have to be removed effectively closing the road. This will be replaced by a new section of bridge which will allow trains to pass underneath. The proposed closure dates are May 13 to July 8, 2019.
A meeting had been arranged for Thursday (October 11) in which Govia Thameslink Railway was going to tell councillors and members of the public about the plans. However, they have pulled out of the Eastern Area Committee meeting and will now hold a public meeting within two weeks.
A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway said: “We will be calling a public meeting within two weeks, to listen to people’s concerns. This will be at a venue as close to Cambridge station as we can find. At this public meeting we will have representatives from Govia Thameslink Railway, as well as Network Rail, which is applying for the road closure, and Spencer’s, the construction company. We are also committing to brief area councillors in the meantime and to meet with the traders’ representative.
“However, we won’t be addressing the council meeting tonight because some late minute comments have come through on our proposals that we won’t have time to properly address.
“This £30 million extension of Cambridge railway depot is an essential scheme to help increase the number of Thameslink services to and from the City from as far afield as Brighton and Gatwick Airport, boosting the local economy.”
He added that the road would have to close for reasons of public safety to allow work on arches under the bride to be widened in order for the rail improvements to take place.
Ward councillor Richard Robertson said: “I think it is essential that we can’t have the road closed completely for more than a few days. I’m very concerned about the impact on residents and traders on Mill Road. I think there should be some consultation on this to see if people would prefer to have a longer period of disruption but not completely close the road. I want to find out whether we could have one way traffic with traffic lights over the bridge during the works. I’m concerned there may be a serious impact on some traders’ finances.”