Call for report into Whorlton bridge closure to be revealed
TEESDALE’S MP has called for council chiefs to publish a report on the closure of Whorlton suspension bridge and carry out repairs as soon as possible.
The plea from MP Dehenna Davison came as Durham County Council said the bridge isn’t strong enough to meet its current permitted use. Until it was shut, vehicles under three tons could cross the bridge. It is not clear what repairs or structural improvements could be made.
Durham County Council has also been unable to say if or when the bridge will be open to cars again.
Ms Davison met people living in Whorlton and Wycliffe to hear with their concerns.
Whorlton Bridge, which was constructed in 1829, was closed to motorists “temporarily” in July 2019 after a routine inspection showed a “safety defect”.
Ms Davison said “It was speculated the repairs would take up to a year to complete, leaving residents disconnected to friends and family across the river.
“It is right that the bridge is closed until it is safe for drivers to pass over, but it should be of paramount importance repairs are conducted as soon as possible to ensure residents of both villages are able to quickly and conveniently visit each other.
“It was really insightful to hear from residents the issues the closure has caused and talk about what they would like to see moving forward.
“I will continue to push Durham County Council to publish the engineer report about the bridge and get these repairs carried out as soon as possible. The structure is one of the earliest suspension bridges in the country. Despite modifications to strengthen it, it has a weight limit of three tons, and due to its age, needs regular inspections.
Ms Davison said: “I am also working with the Government to explore how we can best maintain our historic bridges and look forward to picking this up further now Parliament has returned.”
Brian Buckley, Durham County Council’s strategic highways manager, said: “We have received a draft copy of the report and the results indicate that the bridge does not have the load carrying capacity for its current permitted use.
“We will now review our options going forward, with the support of a number of experts, including our conservation team and Historic England.
“Until we have decided upon the most suitable course of action, we aren’t able to identify the extent of the repairs or determine a timescale for the proposed works.
“The bridge will therefore remain closed for the foreseeable future.”