Throughout the day work has been taking place to re-open the Mill Road Bridge, which for the past year has only been open to pedestrians, cyclists and buses.
Work will continue on the Bridge to remove the controversial closure that Cambridgeshire County Council voted to put an end to last week (July 27).
Despite traffic being able to pass over the bridge from today, August 3, drivers are being advised to avoid Mill Road until works are complete fully.
A county council spokesperson said: “Our contractors are out on-site today starting work to remove the cameras, signs, and buildouts.
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“We expect our contractors’ work to take a couple of days given the large amount of signage warning drivers about the closure which requires removal across this area of the city.
“We anticipate these works will cause some disruption and drivers are advised to avoid Mill Road until works are complete.”
Before today, the bridge was closed to all traffic except buses, cyclists, and pedestrians, and has been since June 2020 in an experiment to encourage more people to choose to walk and cycle.
Earlier this year a Highways and Transport committee meeting discussed whether to continue the experimental system of closing off the bridge to all traffic.
After a 7-7 split vote among committee members it was left to vice-chair, Labour’s Cllr Gerri Bird, standing in for chair Cllr Peter McDonald to give the deciding vote.
The vote was made owing to her concerns particularly in regard to how it has impacted businesses and disabled people.
Cllr Bird voted against her fellow councillors’ amendments with the deciding vote, which opened the bridge.
“I’ve taken everybody’s arguments in. I’m very concerned about the access for the elderly, disabled and taxis,” she summarised.
“I’ve always said this from the start when this bridge was closed. I’m sorry folks but I’m going for B2 [option to open the bridge].”
The news was met by cheers from members of the public attending, who earlier had passionately supported the reopening of the bridge to all traffic.
Cllr Alan Sharp, a Conservative who voted to open up the bridge said: “Our primary aim must be to enable people to get around efficiently and safely but their health is obviously equally important.
“The closure of the bridge, as we’ve heard, has had an effect on trade, some good and some obviously bad.
“I use Mill Road about once a week and from the lobbying, we’ve received there seems to have been an effect on other roads in the area.”
Cllr Ryan Fuller, a fellow Conservative, said: “I know Mill Road well; before this, it was the beating heart of that part of Cambridge.
“We’ve heard how divisive it is and we’ve heard the significant concerns. We’ve seen across the country these measures have been divisive, they haven’t worked and more forward-thinking councils than us have been ripping them up left, right and centre.”
Following the vote, a councillor claimed they had been unable to attend the knife-edge vote after being pinged by the NHS app, alerting him he had been in close contact with someone with coronavirus and should self-isolate.
The chair of the highways committee, Cllr Peter McDonald, has said Tuesday’s controversial decision would have been different if he had been in charge.
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