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Discovery of old tram track holds up Vauxhall Bridge reopening

The reopening of Vauxhall Bridge to general traffic - schedule for late November - has been delayed till 10 December after workers came across old tram tracks buried below the road surface for nearly 70 years.

Vauxhall Bridge

Vauxhall Bridge was closed to cars and lorries in August for a 17-week repair programme. The bridge reopened to southbound traffic ahead of schedule on 31 October but northbound traffic is still diverted via Albert Embankment and Lambeth Bridge.

Whilst TfL's main web page about the Vauxhall Bridge closure still quotes a 'late November' reopening date, the buses section of the TfL website says that work won't be completed till 10 December.

The reason for the delay was revealed by Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford during a question and answer session with the London TravelWatch board on Tuesday morning.

Mr Byford said: "I jog across Vauxhall Bridge so I am an absolute pain in the backside to one of my senior managers because I am always saying 'When is it going to be finished? I don't see anyone working there'.

"As is often the case, the work has been extended because when the guys came to renovate the carriageway, they found some deeply embedded old tram tracks in the base of the bridge that no one seemed to know about.

"Anyway, that bridge is almost complete. I will probably go for a run later and I'll have a look and see how it's going."

The current Vauxhall Bridge, which dates from 1906, was the first Thames river crossing to carry tram tracks – initially horse-drawn but soon converted to electric operation.

The last tram service crossed Vauxhall Bridge in January 1952 and the tracks have been preserved below the road surface ever since.

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