Work has begun on building the bridge that will enable part of the Wey and Arun Canal in Surrey to be fully opened to boats for the first time in more than 150 years.
Contractors are carrying out preparatory earthworks for a new crossing of the waterway in Compasses Lane, Alfold, at one of the entrances to Dunsfold Aerodrome.
The bridge is replacing a wartime concrete causeway which is now the only obstacle to navigation on one-and-a-quarter miles of the canal. The waterway has already been largely restored between Tickner’s Heath in Dunsfold and Fast Bridge on the A281 at Alfold.
The £700,000 restoration is being carried under the direction of Trust Director Tony Ford, a chartered civil engineer who has extensive experience of designing roads and bridges.
He said: “Our contractors are first of all forming a working platform using compacted clay and crushed stone to provide a firm surface for their machinery.
“Towards the end of June, we will be drilling holes into the ground and forming the piles which will support the new bridge. Then the actual construction can start.”
Work on the bridge, which is expected to take about six months, is being done with the co-operation of aerodrome owners Dunsfold Park and local landowners. The Trust has so far raised £423,442 towards the cost of the project – see panel on the home page.
Over next winter, Trust volunteers will prepare the site for the road to be realigned.
Contractors will return to do this in spring 2016 and the canal section is expected to be officially opened in the autumn.
This will coincide with the 200th
anniversary of the official opening of the Wey & Arun Junction Canal – the northern section of the waterway – at the Compasses site.