North Yorkshire County Council’s contractors are doing everything they can so that Tadcaster Bridge can be opened to traffic at the end of this month.
The bridge is programmed to open on January 27th and the County Council continues to throw everything at the job to meet the programme. The programme is being reviewed by officers and contractors twice a day to look at progress and any changing circumstances.
Although completing works in order to open the bridge by the 27th is still possible, there is now no flexibility to meet that date, given the intensity of the works programme and the setbacks that have already occurred.
The County Council lost a number of weeks to high river levels on the Wharfe last autumn and more recently work was hampered by freezing temperatures over Christmas and into the New Year. Adverse weather predicted for the coming week and any other unforeseen problems would result in an extension to the period of construction.
“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 drilling and piling and progressing the work 24 hours a day. But the timescale is now very tight and because of the very cold weather forecast and should there be any other unforeseen issues, we would be very hard pressed to make that date. However, we are ploughing on, theoretically that date is still possible and we give an assurance that we will do everything we can to open to traffic as near to the target date as possible.
“We do recognise how important the opening of the bridge is to the people of Tadcaster. They have been a community literally cut in two for a year and are eagerly looking forward to the time when they will be reconnected. We thank them for the patience they have shown and their fortitude and assure them that the bridge will be open for them in the very near future.”
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 also erected a temporary footbridge by the beginning of last February against all the odds due to the length of the span and difficulties with access. Again, contractors were pulled onto the job 24/7 to complete it quickly.
Cllr Mackenzie added: “All historic bridges are different but normally a job like Tadcaster’s main bridge reconstruction would require at least a nine month lead-in time for designs, procurement, planning permission and access issues all to be put in place. We went out there and started the job straight away, accomplishing all these things as we went along. Now we are bringing all of this together to finish the job very soon. It will be a day everybody can be proud of.”