The first of two Swaledale bridges destroyed during catastrophic flooding in 2019 has reopened.
Cogden North bridge, on the B6270 Richmond to Grinton road, is now open to traffic, with Cogden South bridge on the C106 near Grinton Moor expected to reopen by January 25, 2021.
In the space of one night, flooding destroyed land and property and the two bridges were washed away.
The county council built temporary roads and bridges at both locations, with the B6270 able to reopen in two weeks.
Since the permanent repairs began at Cogden North in September the temporary bridge has been removed, surrounding land reinstated and stone walls rebuilt.
The B6270 only had to be closed for one night when new bridge units were lifted into place.
Andrew Atkin, landlord of The Bridge Inn at Grinton, was the first to drive over the reopened permanent bridge. As with many businesses in the area, he has dealt with three rounds of flooding over the past year and has been forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrew said: “When the bridges collapsed it was devastating for the whole area and by the time we even began our recovery, trade had been greatly affected.
“The swift reaction of the County Council to build temporary bridges was great, and news that work on both bridges will be complete soon gives us all some hope after everything we have been through with more flooding and the pandemic.”
A new car park has been created at The Bridge Inn and flood defences have been improved.
“When we get the go-ahead we are ready to reopen,” Andrew added. “We are looking forward to welcoming back our customers and seeing a surge in people visiting the area once again. I am optimistic that normality is just around the corner.”
Geraldine Coates, chair of the Grinton and Ellerton Abbey Parish Council, welcomes the reopening and reflects on the hard work of everybody involved in the recovery operation.
“It is excellent news that the permanent Cogden North bridge has been reopened on schedule,” said Geraldine. “When the floods hit last summer the County Council acted in record time to get the temporary bridge in position and now they have followed through as promised with the permanent replacement.
“They have carried out the work with minimum disruption to traffic, keeping the vital link into the Dale open.”
The parish council has been raising funds to carry out work to stabilise the becksides of the village green and parking area to prevent more flooding in the future.
County councillor Yvonne Peacock, member for the Upper Dales, said: “The highly-anticipated reopening of Cogden North bridge is a success story in reconnecting the Yorkshire Dales. These bridges are part of our essential infrastructure vital for residents, local businesses and visitors.
“Over recent years we have experienced several bouts of flooding affecting communities across the Dales. I want to assure residents that we continue to do as much as we can to assist in prevention and recovery.”
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, added: “When the bridges collapsed, Swaledale saw a month of rain fall in just one night. The pictures of the destroyed bridges shocked the nation, showing the harsh reality of what a short spell of freak weather can do.
“This is a time for celebration and to show how our communities have bounced back in the face of adversity. This is a great example of the resilient Team North Yorkshire spirit.”