North Yorkshire County Council is investigating all options to create pedestrian access over the River Wharfe at Tadcaster after the partial collapse of the road bridge last week.
The county counil’s highways managers have been holding meetings today with the military, Highways England and the Department for Transport to decide next steps for the town’s historic bridge.
All have agreed that the possibility of the military building a temporary road bridge is not an option given the span required and the constraints of the location and the fact that this would hamper the repair of the existing bridge.
It was also agreed that reconstructing a listed bridge of this nature, with its series of masonary arches, is a highly complex and skilled operation which the county council is best placed and has the necessary expertise to carry out.
The county council’s diving engineers will carry out another survey of the bridge this week to complement the survey they carried out last Thursday.
The council is hoping that the reconstruction of the bridge can be carried out within 12 months, circumstances permitting. It is estimated that the reconstruction will cost around £3 million. The county council will therefore be looking for financial support from Government.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways said:
This bridge was built in the 18th century and its reconstruction will be highly complex and require specialist skills which the county council’s bridges engineers are very well qualified to carry out. Unfortunately there is no quick fix and in the meantime we will look at all options to create pedestrian access across the river.
The county council is also looking to stabilise the bridge further with concrete underpinning of the bridge’s pier due to flood waters scouring part of the river bed underneath. However, the bridge will remain closed to both pedestrians and traffic.
The county council is therefore looking to improve the existing pedestrian route across the viaduct. It is also looking at the possibility of creating a temporary footbridge across the river using pontoons. But without further investigation engineers cannot say whether this will be either safe or practicable
In Tadcaster, County Council staff members have operated a shuttle bus to take passengers via the A64 from one side of the River Wharfe to the other, due to the bridge collapse and closure. This is now being operated by Utopia, the county council’s contractor.
The latest timetable for shuttle bus connections for Tadcaster is available on the following link: http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/shuttlebus