Safety steps taken during the closure of Lydbrook Bridge
Gloucestershire County Council is to install metal fences to protect walkers as investigation work takes place.
The county council had to close the bridge in January this year when a routine inspection found that the 92m long pedestrian walkway had timber deck boarding that was loose and rotten. In some places the decking had fallen into the river Wye and was missing. It had become dangerous for anyone using it.
For safety reasons large ply boards were put up at each end to prevent people from crossing the bridge, but it has been repeatedly damaged, so the council has arranged for strong metal security fencing to be installed that can not be vandalised.
The bridge was originally constructed around 1869-1873 from what are thought to be wrought iron beams supported by iron columns.
The overall bridge structure is suffering from significant corrosion with large areas of the wrought iron section being lost below the timber footway. There are parts of the footway which are not supported and are unsafe to stand on, so the county council has employed a specialist roped access and diving survey company to inspect the bridge and make a report.
When the report is received the council will look at the options for repair, although a permanent repair to the bridge is expected to cost in excess of £700,000 so the bridge is likely to remain closed for sometime.
The bridge is jointly owned by Gloucestershire County Council and Herefordshire Council. On the Gloucestershire side there is no highway or public right of way over the bridge
Cllr Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways said, "While it's sad to see Lydbrook Bridge closed for the time being, we absolutely must keep people safe.
"We're going to put in some strong metal fencing to make sure walkers don't try and cross the bridge and get themselves into any danger.
"Once the detailed inspection has been carried out, and we've received the full report, we'll know more about the work and the cost needed to bring this bridge back into public use."
Cllr Colin Guyton, local county councillor for Drybrook and Lydbrook said, "It's always disappointing when a facility like this has to close, but age is obviously winning. I ask everyone who's previously used the bridge to respect the council's decision which is meant to keep people safe."
Lydbrook Bridge is one of the four remaining (of the original ten) rail bridges to span the River Wye. It was constructed to carry the connection between the Ross-Monmouth Railway and the Severn and Wye Railway at Lydbrook junction station, for the Edison Swan Cable works.