Work begins soon to replace ‘Cats Back’ bridge on Wandsworth Common

Published: Monday 19th December 16

Regular visitors to Wandsworth Common are being reminded that Network Rail will shortly be closing its pedestrian bridge that crosses the railway tracks that cut through the middle of the common.

The well-used ‘Cat’s Back’ bridge will close at the beginning of January for approximately five weeks.

The rail company needs to completely replace the ageing concrete structure and over the course of the five week project will be removing the old bridge and installing a new one.

According to Network Rail several repairs have been carried out in recent years to prolong the life of the bridge but engineering experts say it now requires a complete replacement made from steel.

Their plan is to manoeuvre a crane into place early in the New Year to lift out the old bridge and then lower in the new one.

The council has requested that a larger crane be used for this task in order to protect trees on the common and prevent any being lost.

The crane to be used will therefore be capable of lifting up to 1,000 tonnes - but because it is so large it can be positioned some 50 metres from the bridge.

Using a smaller one able to lift 250 tonnes would have been sufficient, but it would have had to be sited much closer to the bridge and the tracks and this would have resulted in the loss of several large trees.

The operation will require a part of the common to be used temporarily as a works site and will also mean that the many people who use the bridge as a convenient shortcut will need to find an alternative route. The nearest crossing over the railway tracks is in Bellevue Road.   

Cyclists who use the designated cycle path that leads to the bridge will need to find alternative routes. None of the other paths on the common are designated as cycle routes.

The works are planned to start on January 3 and be finished by February 10.

The council’s environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This is a major engineering project that will inevitably cause some inconvenience to regular users of the common.  We will be monitoring progress closely and doing everything we can to ensure the task is completed as quickly as possible.”

To find out more about the project and for progress updates people can contact Network Rail's customers services team on 03457 11 41 41 or via its online contact form.

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