Essential safety work on Lydbrook Black Bridge (known locally as Stowfield Viaduct) will be done June – October.
Built in 1875 Lydbrook Rail Bridge (known locally as Stowfield Viaduct or the Black Bridge) is a former railway structure which spans the River Wye. The rail line was closed in 1964 and the bridge deck was refurbished to form a walkway. The bridge was closed in 2016 due to safety concerns.
Bridge work will begin on Monday 4th June to make sure that river traffic and walkers continue to be safe when passing underneath.
So that the work can be carried out safely more than 1000 pieces of scaffolding and 1000 scaffolding boards will be put up first which should take about five weeks. Next, all the timber parts of the bridge and parapets will be removed along with any loose parts which could fall onto the footpath or into the river. The waste from the bridge will be recycled. The columns, main beams and the transverse beams will remain in place.
Whilst the scaffolding is being erected and removed, buoys will be used to safely direct boats and other river users under the bridge.
Pedestrians on the Herefordshire side of the riverbank will not be able to walk under the bridge and will be guided around with a short diversion.
Construction vehicles will be accessing the bridge from the Gloucestershire side via the yellow access gate next to Lydbrook Football club. Walkers are asked to be mindful of the increased number of vehicles using this track.
Once the work is complete, there will be a risk-free passage under the bridge for water traffic and walkers however the bridge itself will still not be accessible on foot.
Footpath is closed
The footpath was closed early in 2016 due to the identification of significant defects. The structure is jointly owned by Herefordshire Council (HC) and Gloucestershire County Councils, however, Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) are the lead authority for this bridge. GCC commissioned a specialist independent contractor to carry a full inspection of the bridge. The inspection report confirmed sections of the bridge are in poor condition and extensive repairs were recommended.
Due to the serious concerns over pedestrian safety the bridge has been closed. Fences have been erected to prevent access. HC & GCC have requested that people do not attempt to cross the bridge or damage the surrounding infrastructure.
Unfortunately there have been instances where the fencing has been damaged and the public have ignored the closure. This is a serious danger due to the defects in the footpath and the parapets, for example the loss of section in the supporting beams, holes in the wood bridge deck and the loss of parapet sections (see photos).
A Feasibility Report identifying possible options available to resolve the issues at the bridge is available on the right hand side of this page.