Background to the new bridge
There has been a bridge at Walton on Thames since 1750. It provides an important link across the River Thames between Shepperton and Walton on Thames. The road across the bridge forms part of the A244, which connects Feltham, Sunbury, Shepperton, Walton on Thames, Hersham, Esher, Oxshott and Leatherhead. Approximately 34,000 vehicles use the bridge on weekdays.
As a result of bomb damage during the Second World War a temporary bridge has been in use since 1953. The current road bridge is a temporary bridge that opened to traffic in December 1999, whilst pedestrians and cyclists still use the temporary bridge built in 1953. The 1999 temporary bridge has a limited period planning permission that expires in December 2014, by which time a new permanent bridge needs to be in place.
In 2002 the Walton Bridge Project Team commissioned a selection of designs for the new river crossing. A new bridge will replace the two existing temporary bridges, and a new viaduct will be built alongside the existing viaduct, with the existing viaduct remaining in use for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Many factors had to be taken into account to ensure that the local environment wouldn't be adversely affected, for example the impact the new bridge would have on wildlife, noise and vibration, river navigation, and local traffic flow. A public exhibition of the design options was held in March 2003.
Proposals for a new bridge
In September 2003 the County's Executive approved a 'Tied Arch' design for the new river bridge. This design had the highest level of support at the exhibition, and also came out top in a technical assessment.
This artist's impression shows how the bridge would have looked from Cowey Sale looking upstream.
The new crossing was to be built approximately 20 metres upstream from the existing bridges, and consisted of:
- an 'Arch' bridge, which would significantly improve river views along the Thames;
- a new viaduct built alongside the existing Victorian viaduct across the Cowey Sale flood plain; and
- a new Cowey Sale junction, where Walton Lane (Walton) joins the road across the bridge, with twin link roads down to the riverside.
Building the new bridge alongside the existing crossing removes the need to build a temporary bridge while construction work is carried out.
The result of a Public Inquiry into the various Orders required for the new crossing was published in November 2006. The Government decided not to confirm the Orders, and encouraged the County Council to look again at the design of the Cowey Sale junction.
A revised proposal, incorporating a priority 'T' junction at Cowey Sale, was adopted by the County Council in May 2007, and planning permission was granted in March 2008. Although the arch design for the bridge has been retained, the arch has been lowered by 5.8 metres (about 19 ft).
Approval for the new bridge
This image shows the proposed new bridge, viewed from the Swan Walk development just downstream of the bridge. Pedestrians and cyclists will benefit from new wide 'shared use' footways across the new bridge and viaduct.
A Public Inquiry into the various Orders required for the revised crossing was held at the end of June 2009. The Secretary of State for Transport confirmed the Orders on 21 December 2009, and on the same date the Exchange Land Certificates were issued.
On 29 December 2010 the Government announced full funding approval for the scheme, and the advance works for the project commenced on 31 January 2011 with the main construction work following on in January 2012.