MISSING chunks of concrete and cracks in a bridge that carries the Eastern Bypass across Littlemore have sparked fears.

The bridge, which was built in the 1950s, appears to have developed cracks and large chunks of concrete are missing closer to the base.

Oxfordshire County Council has reassured residents the bridge is safe and that remedial work does not need to be carried out.

But Hilda Beesley, who lives in Bodley Road, near Cowley Road, Littlemore, which is passed over by the A34 bridge, said it was worrying the bridge was in such a state.

She said: “I would imagine people will be very worried about it, especially people going to work along it.

“People worry about how safe it could be. I think it will need doing.

“It could be dangerous for anybody if it is going to be like that.

“It would be good if the county council would put people’s minds at rest about it because it is very worrying for people who go that way every day and travel on the A34.”

The appearance of the bridge has been a concern for some time and earlier this year Littlemore Parish councillor David Henwood launched an appeal to brighten it up with a community art project. He later raised the issue of the bridge’s condition with the county council.

Mr Henwood, a karate blackbelt, said he feels the bridge is ready for the chop. “There are cracks all over the bridge, both where the road meets the bridge and, more seriously, there are two through and through cracks on both of the main braces on the bottom. It’s ready for the chop.”

“The metal reinforcing bars are exposed and rusting.

“As they absorb more moisture they will bloom and break more concrete off. The cracks appear on both legs.

“In my opinion either the 1950s concrete is failing under the stress of heavier lorries or water is increasing on the steel reinforcing bars and forcing them to bloom.

“This really is a serious problem, far bigger than I expected.”

The Eastern Bypass, officially the A4142, was built in the 1950s and opened in 1959.

Oxfordshire County Council stresses the ‘damage’ to the bridge is nothing to worry about and in keeping with what would be expected for a structure of its age.

County council spokesman Paul Smith said: “We do inspect our bridges. We are therefore fully aware of the condition of this bridge. Cracking is not unusual and can often be expected on any reinforced concrete bridge built over 50 years ago, in this case in 1958. That does not mean the bridge is unsafe.

“The condition of the bridge is no different to scores of other concrete bridges of similar vintage throughout the UK.”