Senior councillors in Leeds will consider plans for a major repair project on flood-damaged Linton Bridge next week.
At the meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 22 June, the council’s executive board will be asked to formally approve plans to spend up to £4.5million on repairing the bridge, which has been closed since suffering significant damage in the Christmas floods.
The bridge over the River Wharfe, which carries traffic between Linton and Collingham, suffered damage to the foundations, rendering it unsafe. Its south pier (bridge support) sank approximately 200millimetres overnight, deforming the deck and parapets. This movement also cracked the southern arch.
Emergency work was undertaken before Easter to fill the voids beneath the sunken pier using special underwater concrete. In order to access the bridge, a temporary road had to be built in the adjacent field with the co-operation of the land owner and tenant.
Whilst the filling of these voids will protect the pier foundation from further erosion and settlement, the cracked arch remains at risk of collapse. It is the precarious state of this arch which has made it impossible for engineers to work on or beneath it until such time as it is securely supported.
Design teams are now working on the complex challenge of repairing the bridge whilst maintaining as much of the original material and its appearance as possible. A solution has now been identified with work expected to start by the end of July to put in place a river platform, pre-fabricated arch support units and the construction of the foundations of the temporary support structure in the river.
Given the complexity of the challenge and the work required, the permanent repair works are expected to be completed by the summer of 2017.
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“I think everyone now realises the challenge of repairing Linton Bridge is considerable and requires detailed and complex work, so is not something that can be done quickly. However, we are committed to completing these repairs as a key part of our response to the floods.”
The ongoing closure of the bridge is causing a significant impact on the local communities and businesses, and as such the feasibility of providing a temporary footbridge has been considered at length.
The proposed footbridge would involve a significant environmental impact in order to be put in place and would be estimated to cost in excess of £450,000 for a temporary bridge that would be in place for several months and a year at the most. Local public consultation has resulted in mixed views being offered on the provision of the footbridge, so due to the environmental impact, the costs and logistical challenges the executive board will be recommended to not approve the footbridge proposal.
Instead of the footbridge, the free shuttle bus service which has been operating between Linton and Wetherby since early January has been enhanced. Provided by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), the service runs hourly between 7am and 7pm Monday to Saturday. Since the end of May the service has been extended to travel directly from Linton to Collingham along the diversionary route and remains free of charge. Updated timetables and bus information can be seen at the following links:
Councillor Lewis added:
“The temporary footbridge has been considered and discussed, but from our discussions a lot of local people are not in favour of it so we have listened and will not be progressing it. Instead, we are discussing with WYCA how the free bus service can be enhanced further as well as the support we can offer to businesses. We are committed to doing everything we can to mitigate this ongoing issue and would ask for the continued patience and support from the local communities impacted.”
Proposals to extend the operating hours longer into the evening and to include Sunday are now being considered.
Help for businesses is also being considered, with reduced business rates and further financial hardship support available from Leeds City Council on an evaluation basis.
Apart from Linton Bridge, Leeds City Council is also continuing to discuss with the government other elements of infrastructure in the city damaged by the floods, which is estimated to total £9million of damage in total.
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