Tadcaster’s young people and school children led the opening procession over Tadcaster Bridge today accompanied byCommunities Secretary Sajid Javid and local MP Nigel Adams.

 

Thousands of people from the town gathered in celebratory mood to watch the bridge’s reopening just over a year after Tadcaster was cut in two when the bridge collapsed due to the force of flood water before New Year 2016.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Leader, Cllr Carl Les, and Chairman, Cllr Val Arnold, along with Barry Dodd, chairman of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership and many of the town’s business people,  also joined the procession over the bridge.

Mr Javid, who declared the bridge formally open accompanied by Mr Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, said: “The floods here in Tadcaster turned people’s lives upside down, and nowhere was that more apparent than with the closure of the bridge. Today’s reopening is a significant milestone, and is a clear sign that this community is back on its feet and open for business.”

Mr Adams said:“Today is a fantastic day for Tadcaster, reuniting the town after 13 months of separation. I always said when the bridge collapsed that Tadcaster would bounce back stronger and I believe it has done that.

“We have a better, safer bridge. The County Council and its contractor have done a fantastic job to get the bridge reopened. Stone bridges are complex to repair and the fact that this bridge has been reopened in 13 months is a fantastic team effort, supported by funding from central government and the local enterprise partnership.”

Contractors have been working around the clock since the autumn to finish the work as quickly as possible despite problems caused earlier in the project by high river levels and more recently by freezing conditions.

 

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.

 

In recent days to do everything possible to keep work progressing, the contractors erected heated tents over the masonry parapet wall on the upstream side of the bridge to counter freezing temperatures so the stone work could set. But even with these efforts it has been extremely challenging to get the bridge open by the end of this week.

 

In Parliament earlier this week Theresa May, the Prime Minister, thanked the team “who worked so hard to restore the bridge” and she also joined local MP Nigel Adams in thanking people in Tadcaster “who have had to put up with disruption and inconvenience for such a long time.”

“I am delighted to see the community of Tadcaster reunited as its vital bridge reopens”, said Transport Minister Andrew Jones. “The floods knocked out this crucial link and it was a government priority to restore this important bridge and we provided £3.3 million to achieve this.

“The reopening of the bridge is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work by a lot of people in many different organisations and my thanks go to everyone involved.”

“Today is a great moment in the history of Tadcaster,” said County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways. “Its community has been literally cut in two for a year by the bridge’s collapse and people have been eagerly looking forward to this time when they are reconnected.  We thank them for the patience and fortitude they have shown throughout the year.

“I am very proud of the enormous effort made by our contractors, Balfour Beatty, and our bridges team to complete a very challenging project of this kind in little more than half the time it would normally take.  Everybody has put their back into this so that Tadcaster can be reconnected and get on with the business of daily life and building its economy.  The bridge has not only been restored with great sensitivity befitting its historic status, but also widened to meet the needs of a modern transport system.”

Dave Robinson, Project Director for Tadcaster Bridge at Balfour Beatty, said: “Balfour Beatty is extremely proud to have played a part in rebuilding Tadcaster Bridge, giving back to the local community this important link.

“Due to its grade II listed status, we have had to draw on our extensive experience to employ traditional materials and methods to reconstruct the bridge as it was originally built. We have also implemented 21st century technology during the reconstruction process, using our in-house team to carry out a 3D survey of the structure to establish geometry for the design of the works.

“We were delighted to be appointed by North Yorkshire County Council, following a successful partnership on the North Yorkshire coastal protection scheme and hope the local community is able to enjoy the reopened Tadcaster Bridge for many more centuries to come.”

The 18th century grade two listed bridge has been reconstructed and widened with £3m from the Government and £1.4m from the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership.

Barry Dodd CBE, Chairman of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership which works with public and private sector partners to grow the local economy, said: “Tadcaster needs to reinvigorate its high street to recover from the bridge collapse. Investing to widen the bridge will increase footfall which is crucial to any successful town centre. We encourage everyone to continue to support Tadcaster by visiting this reconnected community and keeping their tills ringing. These were very challenging times, but through true Yorkshire grit the community came together and we will see stronger times ahead.”