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Seeing Red Over Blue Bridge Made Yellow

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

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A UK county council is red-faced after deciding to paint a historic bridge in the wrong color to speed up the project—even though the bridge will now need to be repainted.

Residents and merchants in Upton-on-Severn, in Worcestershire, are fuming over the mistake.

 The bridge into Upton-on-Severn was supposed to be painted in duchess blue.
The bridge into Upton-on-Severn was supposed to be painted in duchess blue.

The Worcestershire County Council says it knew that the lemon-yellow color it approved was wrong, but that it had committed to reopen the bridge to two-way traffic over the holiday season and needed to apply a protective coating before the winter.

‘I Couldn’t Believe My Eyes’

Still, it was not clear from local reports why the council opted for lemon yellow. After all, local residents chose a color scheme of duchess blue with gold trim after a six-week public debate and vote over the summer.

Upton’s mayor Andrea Morgan said she was surprised when the full extent of the mix-up was revealed, but she had been assured that it would be changed.

“Somebody said to me we should have been monitoring it, but it was a hard-hat area that was closed off and there was nothing to suggest anything was wrong as far as we were concerned,” she told the Malvern Gazette.

“We did think they would be putting an undercoat on, because it was metal, but I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Other residents said they had assumed that the bright yellow was a primer coat.

Town Impact

Upton town councilor Eric White called the mistake “dreadful,” adding: “You need dark glasses just to go across it, and it certainly does not do anything for Upton.”

The painting is part of a £550,000 (about $780,000 US) project to strengthen, waterproof and resurface the bridge. Repainting the bridge will cost about £5,000 ($7,800 US), and it is still unclear exactly who—the contractor, the county or the town—will pay for that.

In addition, locals note, the repainting project will again snarl bridge traffic and drive trade from the town—recreating the time pressure that caused the panicked council to choose the wrong color before.

Local merchant Bob Kay told the BBC that he had lost £6,000 (about $9,400 US) per week during the bridge work, which began in October and ended only Friday (Nov. 25).

“Passing trade fell off, you see, because it took about five to 10 minutes to get into Upton,” Kay said.

“The traffic was all backed up. It was horrendous, and people just didn't bother coming into town if they didn't have to.”

Repainting Ahead?

Officials now say that repainting will have to wait until the new year to avoid further impact on businesses during the holiday period. Community manager Jon Fraser said the repainting could be done at the same time as resurfacing, which has also been delayed, but Kay and others were dubious.

“They made a mistake didn't they?” said Kay. “They should just leave it alone now. What is done is done. Better that than prolonged closures and more disruption to trade.”

Added White: “If it is going to stay like that until 2012, I suppose we could always get some buckets of mud and tone it down ourselves.”

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Color; Historic Preservation; Primers; Project Management; Protective coatings

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