Maintenance work will start next month on the historic Downholme Bridge – with the final two weeks of work rescheduled to allow for a local wedding to take place.
The bridge is an iconic, multiple-span, grade II listed masonry structure at the junction of the A6108 and the C125 road to Marske.
Parts of the bridge’s parapet and the spandrel wall below the road have deteriorated during the winter and now need to be repaired.
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The work will involve taking down and rebuilding large parts of the parapet and the spandrel walls and resurfacing areas of the carriageway over the bridge.
Work on the bridge is expected to take 14 weeks and will include periods of closure to all motor vehicles.
Open excavations in the carriageway and the need for scaffolding mean the bridge must be closed to motor vehicles for a number of short periods totalling up to eight weeks. Diversions will be in place during the closure periods.
Access for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists will be maintained throughout the work.
The expected closure periods are 12 June to 2 July; 17 July to 6 August and 28 August to 10 September.
At other times, the road will be open while work is carried out on its exterior elevation.
The work is expected to be completed by 21 September. All dates are dependent on the weather.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for highways, said: “The extent of the damage to the parapet and spandrel wall means that the repairs are required urgently.
“Any delay in the work could lead to further deterioration and the need for more costly repairs and longer closures. We need to complete the repairs before the onset of winter, when falling temperatures and poor weather would be likely to lengthen the repair time. We will do all we can to minimise disruption while the bridge is closed.”
County Councillor John Blackie, member for the Upper Dales, said: “There is no doubt, having seen the photographs of Downholme Bridge, that repair work is urgently needed to prevent it falling down altogether.
“Unfortunately the diversions to avoid the road closure whilst the work is done are very long and over remote moorland summits, but the repairs clearly have to take priority.”
He added : “All credit to the county council for being very responsive to the local community by reviewing the repair programme at my request and agreeing it could reschedule at no extra cost the final two weeks of work to allow a local wedding attended by 160 guests to go ahead unhindered by the road closure.
“The bride-to-be lives in Marske and the church is on the other side of the bridge in Downholme.
“Sending these guests, many of whom are unfamiliar with the area, on a 12-mile diversion along steep and narrow roads could have been a recipe for disaster – instead we have made the bride’s day.”