Saltford river bridge project makes progress

THE project to build a bridge over the River Avon between Saltford and Bitton is continuing to make progress.

It will improve access to Saltford Water Recycling Centre, which will undergo a two-year, £34 million expansion to help it meet growing demand.

The bridge itself was lifted into place in the autumn, and its junction with the A431 at Bitton is expected to be completed early in the new year.

Access will be limited to construction traffic only during upgrades to the water recycling centre.

The planting of about 5,000 trees and shrubs, along with ground reinstatement and site clearance, will then continue into the spring.

The public right of way along the Avon Trail will also be reopened in the new year.

A footpath linking the A431 to the right-of-way network and river trail will mean that people on either side of the river will be able to cross it by foot.

Recent wet weather also showcased the nearby Ecological Wetland Scrape, which is part of the scheme’s biodiversity net gain.

It is designed to provide habitat for amphibians, invertebrates, mammals and wetland birds, with three ponds in place and the scrape mimicking the features of a natural, ancient floodplain meadow.

The expansion of the water recycling centre – which treats sewage and wastewater from Bath and the surrounding area before it is safely returned to the environment – is due to start in early 2024.

When completed, the complex will be able to treat more than 800 litres of wastewater per second – about a 40 per cent increase on current flows – to help meet increasing demands from local population growth.

Wessex Water says the bridge project aims to even out the traffic load between the A4 and A431, helping to reduce congestion on the A4 Bath Road. It was granted permission by Bath & North East Somerset Council two years ago.

Although Saltford Parish Council and many villagers backed the scheme, it was opposed by people living on the other side of the river who were unhappy at the prospect of extra traffic.

A spokesperson for Wessex Water, which is carrying out the scheme, said: “We’re continuing to work with and regularly update Saltford Parish Council and the people of Saltford about the progress of the bridge and the water recycling centre expansion. We will be issuing a further update to the community in the new year.”

Pictured, the new bridge across the River Avon after being lifted into place