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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 06:19 GMT
Bridge opens after 30m revamp
Tamar Bridge
The Tamar Bridge project has cost more than 30m
The wait is over for South West drivers who have faced tailbacks on the Tamar Bridge during the 30m strengthening and widening scheme.

The official opening of all five lanes on the bridge over the River Tamar, on the Devon and Cornwall border, took place on Thursday.

The work, which was scheduled for completion in November, was at one point three months behind schedule and due to end in February 2002.

But after months of 'catch up' work, the scheme has been completed in time for Christmas, with the four traffic lanes ready to open.

Delays and tailbacks

The Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferries Joint Committee said the delay was a result of the bad weather last winter.

The bridge first opened in 1961 with three lanes for traffic and a central span of 335m (1100ft).

When it was opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the UK.

The scheme has caused tailbacks for motorists driving between Devon and Cornwall, while traders in Saltash in Cornwall believe it has affected business.

Improving commerce

But the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee said the scheme was necessary because the structure was below the required strength for 40 tonne loading.

The committee said: "If strengthening work had not gone ahead, a 17 tonne weight restriction would have been imposed on vehicles.

"Such a low weight limit on this vital transport link would, undoubtedly, have had serious consequences for commerce in South East Cornwall. "

Now cyclists and pedestrians will use the southern cantilever lane and local traffic eastbound from Saltash will use the northern cantilever lane.

Traffic using the A38 will use the three centre lanes.

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See also:

30 Nov 99 | Scotland
VAT threat to bridge tolls
07 Jun 01 | Newsnight
Diary - June 5
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