Falkirk’s Hope Street bridge work will bring gains

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Residents face seven months of upheaval as work to replace a railway bridge yards from their homes gets underway.

But yesterday (Wednesday) neighbours in Meeks Road in Falkirk were reassured that after the project being tackled by NetworkRail at Hope Street is finished there will be ‘gain after the pain’ when Falkirk Council allows delivery lorries to the nearby Morrisons superstore to be diverted away from their street for the first time.

The bridge over the railway at Grahamston is being raised to allow the future electrification of the lines through Falkirk.

It will mean that for 29 weeks, from Monday until November 5, Hope Street will be closed to all vehicles and restrictions on Meeks Road removed to allow it to be re-opened to two-way traffic at all times by car-using shoppers and HGV drivers alike.

During the construction a temporary walk bridge will be installed next to the existing bridge on Hope Street to maintain pedestrian access.

The plus for householders, however, is that once the work, part of a £30 million investment by NetworkRail to deliver its Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme, is done, traffic calming in Meeks Road will be reinstated and yellow lines repainted.

A spokesman said: “The electrification of the main Edinburgh to Glasgow line which passes through Falkirk High Station is the priority and key to the first phase of our plans. But looking ahead this will have an impact on other sections of the network so it makes sense that while we are in the area we complete the basic groundworks at Grahamston as part of the wider electrification project.

“We have been working closely with Falkirk Council on this and feel the planned work is ultimately in the best interests of the people in the Meeks Road area. The residents, the council and the business community will see the benefits in the long term. At the end of the day there will be a brand new bridge over the railway at Hope Street with no weight restrictions, which should lead to deliveries to Morrisons no longer using Meeks Road but Hope Street instead.

“Our intention is to keep any disruption to a minimum as we raise the height of the bridge and replace the existing concrete roadway. There will be short-term disruption but long-term advantages for householders, shoppers and road users”

Last night (Wednesday) a spokesman for Falkirk Council confirmed: “The new bridge at Hope Street will be capable of carrying three times as much weight as the current bridge, 40 to 44 tonnes as opposed to the present weight limit of 13 tonnes.

“This will allow HGVs to access Morrisons via Hope Street rather than the current route via Meeks Road. We intend to amend the current traffic restriction order on Meeks Road once the work is complete.”

The project is one of 30 ‘bridge clearance’ operations which are part of NetworkRail’s electrification scheme.