Bridge repair could cost £250k

The repairs needed to Wood Hall bridge could cost a quarter of a million pounds. Speaking to East Keswick’s annual parish assembly, Aidan Rayner, Rights of Way Team Leader for North Yorkshire County Council told the audience this one problem would cost more than his entire annual departmental budget. The issue had therefore been referred to directorate level for funding.

The bridge has been closed for over a year since it was identified that tree debris carried downstream by currents had repeatedly struck at one of the bridge supports moving it out of position and warping the entire timber superstructure. Whilst some £25,000 had been spent investigating the problem and providing some work to stop the damage getting greater, the bridge had to remain closed Aidan said, since there was a risk of sudden and dramatic failure.

Members of the audience included a Sicklinghall Parish Councillor and Ramblers Association contact as well as villagers and East Keswick Parish Councillors who quizzed him on the likely resolve of NYCC to repair the bridge. Grant funding was not a possibility, he said, since NYCC had a statutory responsibility under section 56 of the Highways Act to reinstate this bridal path route in a ‘reasonable’ time.

Even when funding is agreed, it would take at least three months for the project to go out to tender and a further five months for the work to be carried out. The bridge problems are compounded by it being only a footpath and bridal bridge whereas any other bridge is usually a road or railway bridge and the road or railway then provide means of access for bring in raw materials and heavy machinery.