North Yorkshire County Council is only days away from completing Tadcaster Bridge and is more optimistic that the bridge will open very close to the target date of January 27th.
The work yet to be finished is complex and difficult and heavily dependent upon the supply of stonework which is being prepared by laser machinery at a quarry in the county.
The team is doing everything possible to complete all work for January 27th and there is some confidence that the downstream footway and the carriageway will be completed on that day; the area of risk relates to the upstream footway and parapet wall - this may take a little bit longer.
The County Council lost a number of weeks to high river levels on the Wharfe last autumn. More recently work was hampered by freezing temperatures over Christmas and into the New Year. However, contractors have continued to operate 24/7 wherever possible and the work is now very close to completion.
“We are making every effort to meet our target date of the 27th”, said County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways. “Our contractors are out on the site progressing the work 24 hours a day. The timescale is very tight and our aim is to continue doing everything we can to open to traffic as near to that date as possible.
“We recognise there is great anticipation in the town. Tadcaster’s community has been literally cut in two for a year by the bridge’s collapse and people are eagerly looking forward to the time when they will be reconnected. We thank them for the patience and fortitude they have shown throughout the year and assure them there is not much longer to wait.
The 18th century grade two listed bridge is being reconstructed and widened with £3m from the Government and £1.4m from the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.
The bridge was closed after its partial collapse due to the force of flood water from heavy rains last Christmas. Because of the importance of the bridge to Tadcaster’s community, the County Council started the Herculean task of reconstruction only two and half weeks after the bridge’s collapse. It has pulled out all the stops to complete a project - which of its kind would normally take about two years - in half the time.
The Council lost no time to erect a temporary footbridge by the beginning of last February despite difficulties due to the length of the span and access issues. Again, contractors were pulled onto the job 24/7 to complete it quickly.
Cllr Mackenzie added: “We went out there and started this complex, challenging job straight away, and now we are very close to the finish line. It will be a day everybody can be proud of.”