Major work on Milburngate Bridge in Durham was finished early today, ahead of schedule.
The busy route reopened before 6.30am ahead of a packed schedule of events in the city this weekend, including Durham Streets Summer Festival and the North East Military Vehicle Rally at the DLI Museum and Art Gallery.
The bridge maintenance programme, carried out by Durham County Council, has been completed within the scheduled seven-week timeframe and before the end of the school summer holiday period.
It involved a major renovation of the structure, which carries about 48,000 vehicles a day.
Work has continued around the clock with a number of overnight closures over the last week to get the project finished ahead of deadline, following severe weather last weekend.
Meanwhile, the council is thanking members of the public for their patience and co-operation during the project.
We had expected severe delays throughout the duration of the work; however, although there was some disruption to traffic, congestion has been at a broadly manageable level.John Reed, Durham County Council
There was potential that the scheme could have caused severe disruption throughout the city centre but, although some delays were unavoidable, traffic problems were generally less than predicted.
This was largely thanks to members of the public supporting advice such as taking alternative routes, staggering their journeys and using other forms of transport like the Park and Ride.
John Reed, head of technical services for Durham County Council, said: “We are delighted that this complex scheme in the middle of the city centre has finished early, which is down to both the hard work and dedication of the workforce and the cooperation of the public.
“We had expected severe delays throughout the duration of the work; however, although there was some disruption to traffic, congestion has been at a broadly manageable level.
“We would like to thank people for their patience while this essential project was carried out and for supporting us by taking alternative routes and thinking about different travel and work options.”
The £1m project involved waterproofing, replacing joints, drainage repairs, resurfacing, upgrading streetlights and work to parapets.
The bridge, which is nearly 50 years old, was in need of repair as it had been nearly 20 years since its last major renovation.
It is now not expected to need any further major maintenance for around 15 to 20 years.
The project was carried out throughout the school summer holidays when traffic using the route in peak hours usually falls by around 20 per cent in order to minimise disruption as much as possible.
At times workers were on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to get the job done.
Members of the public were kept up-to-date with the latest information as the scheme
Coun Brian Stephens, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “We worked extremely hard to make sure everyone was kept informed throughout the project, as we understand how frustrating delays on the roads can be.
“We are really grateful to the travelling public who made use of our camera feeds to help make sure everything went as smoothly as possible.
“It is especially pleasing to note that throughout the duration of the work, nearly 200,000 people visited our Milburngate Bridge webpages, which equates to more than 10 per cent of all visits to our website.
“We also received just 17 complaints or queries linked to the project, which is particularly low for a scheme of this scale.”
Some minor works on the route are still outstanding but they will not affect traffic and will be completed in the coming weeks.