Info from Oxfordshire council about cycle path closure

This is the information we have on Marston Cycle path closure

Rainbow Bridge and University Parks are owned and managed by the University, and they have universal ban on cyclists whether dismounted or not. They have not agreed to relax this ban during our works. Please see below more information

Marston Cycle Path FAQs

When will the cycle path be closed?

From 14th August for 10 weeks, 24 hour a day, 7 days a week.

Why are the works being done?

Neither of the bridges has received significant maintenance since the cycle path was first constructed in the early 1990s.

The steel reinforcement in the deck of Fignon Cycle Bridge has corroded, weakening the deck and causing areas of concrete on the underside of the bridge to become loose. These areas of concrete could pose a risk to boaters. Loose concrete has been removed from the deck, but the deck will continue to deteriorate unless it is replaced.

The timber parapets and decking on Lemond Cycle Bridge are already rotten in places and are beyond their intended service life. Parts of the deck were found to be in poor condition last year and were replaced at short notice, causing considerable disruption. Full refurbishment of the bridge is required to avoid future short notice emergency closures and safeguard the ongoing use of the cycle path in the future.

Why is the cycle path closed during the works?

The decks of both bridges will be removed and replaced as part of the works, rendering the bridges impassable. The bridges are not wide enough to allow for phased working which was adopted when refurbishing Holywell Cycle Bridge further along the cycle path a few years ago.

Why are the works taking so long?

New timber elements on Lemond Cycle Bridge need to be cut to precise lengths by skilled carpenters, and the arched shape of the bridge means it is not possible to prepare all of the timber elements in advance of refurbishment. We are replacing the existing timber elements with very high durability timber. This timber will last for decades, but can be more difficult to work with than softer timbers, taking more time.

Fignon Cycle Bridge is a listed structure due to it being the first bridge of its kind in the UK. Considerable care is required during refurbishment to prevent damage to its post tensioned arched beams.

Both bridges will be refurbished concurrently to reduce the duration of the closure, and we will open the cycle path as soon as possible if the refurbishment works are quicker than anticipated.

What are the alternative cycle routes?

There are two alternative cycle routes between Marston and the City Centre:

The route via Magdalen Bridge is the shortest option, but those preferring to use quiet roads and segregated cycle paths may prefer the longer route Via Marston Ferry Road.

What are the alternative pedestrian routes?

Mesopotamia Walk and the route through University Parks via High Bridge will remain open to pedestrians during daytime hours as usual. These routes do not have appropriate lighting and will closed at night as usual, with gates being locked. Outside daylight hours, the shortest pedestrian route is via Magdalen Bridge.

Can cyclists use Mesopotamia Walk or University Parks as an alternative route? As usual cyclists will not be allowed to use these routes, whether dismounted or not. These routes are not deemed appropriate for cyclists and their use by cyclists puts pedestrians at considerable risk. Signage will be in place asking cyclists not to use Mesopotamia Way and we urge cyclists to obey these signs to allow pedestrians to use these routes safely.

Why hasn’t a shorter alternative cycle route been provided?

OCC have liaised with the University whilst planning the works. Alternative routes utilising existing river crossings e.g. High Bridge, Addison’s Walk, Mesopotamia Way are not appropriate for cyclists whether dismounted or not. All of these routes go through land owned by the University or Colleges which have general bans on cyclists. The University and Colleges have not given permission for these bans to be relaxed or these routes to be used. Even if permission was granted, their use by cyclists would introduce significant risk to pedestrians and are not appropriate for cyclists due to the presence of steps, very steep ramps and are narrow.

Why hasn’t a temporary crossing be provided?

A number of people have proposed that a temporary crossing could be provided to the upper Cherwell, adjacent to Lemond bridge aligned with Meadow bridge over the Lower Cherwell – Either a pontoon bridge or a scaffold bridge. Neither of these options has been investigated in any detail as neither is deemed viable –

Either type of bridge would require a number of trees to be removed and installation of a temporary cycle path on the New Marston Meadows SSSI and through Music Meadow. It may be possible to remove trees and get permission from Natural England for a temporary cycle path on the SSSI but it is not likely that this would be permitted given that there are established alternative routes available.

A temporary crossing has not been investigated in any detail as it is clear that it is not viable from an initial review, but it is very likely that additional problems would present themselves if these were investigated further