We are considering plans to change the operation of our bridges on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal from keeper-operated to remote-controlled.
Having reviewed the responses from our public consultation in 2015, we decided to extend the trial operation at Sandfield Bridge before making a decision.
The purpose of the trial, which will run over summer 2016, is to better investigate and test some of the issues, concerns and suggestions made, develop bridge opening protocols and monitor the impact on canal and road traffic.
We established the Sandfield Bridge Advisory Group which includes local councillors, boaters, highways representatives and our operational staff. The group is working closely together and members will help us with the system’s set-up and testing. Later they will review the trial outcomes with us.
Issues discussed so far include: Gloucestershire County Council Highways’ proposals for traffic control measures; CCTV to enable views 30-40m of road and canal approaches; control centre located at Fretherne Bridge; protocols for canal and road traffic; trial details. You can read the notes of the advisory group’s meetings for more information:
Mid April – mid May
We installed the new system, testing and refining it with advisory group members and invited boaters. The bridge-keeper uses the app to open the bridge.
Mid May - mid June
The app was given to other invited boaters. As expected we found further issues and refinements as boater testing continued.
The bridge continues to be operated by the keeper for the majority of boaters who will not have the app. Boaters can also phone the keeper or use VHF.
The advisory group met to review results to date and consider any revisions needed to the system and operating protocols.
Date tbc depending on progress
The app will be made more generally available to boaters who want it. The bridge will continue to be operated by the keeper for boaters who do not have the app.
The trial will end and the advisory group will meet to review outcomes and consider key points for our report to directors.
If the trial is satisfactory and the case can be made to extend remote-controlled operation to the other bridges identified (i.e. it is technically viable, demonstrates necessary savings and is endorsed by stake-holders) the project team will request approval and finance from the executive committee in autumn 2016 and then from trustees.
A summary of the issues, along with our careful consideration, is explained in our detailed report of the public consultation. For reference you can download our summary leaflet and our presentation used in the earlier consultation although please be aware that they are now outdated.
Last date edited: 5 September 2016