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Two years since the Old Tram Bridge was closed

Posted on - 13th February, 2021 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Parks, Politics, Preston Council, Preston Locations, Preston News, Redevelopment, South Ribble News
The Old Tram Bridge is currently fenced off
The Old Tram Bridge is currently fenced off

It has been two years since the Old Tram Bridge was shut to the public due to its condition.

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The bridge, which spans the River Ribble and links Avenham Park with Penwortham, was closed due to safety concerns from Lancashire County Council.

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “A detailed inspection was carried out on the Old Tram Bridge in 2019, and we concluded that repairing it is not a viable option as significant elements of the bridge are beyond repair.

“Investigations also found evidence to suggest that the bridge falls under the ownership of Preston City Council.”

Read more: Old Tram Bridge ownership debate has been settled

A proposal to replace the bridge was included in a funding bid made in close co-operation with Preston City Council and other partners for various transport improvements as part of the Transforming Cities Fund programme. While significant funding was received for a number of measures, this did not include the Old Tram Bridge scheme.

Read more: Funding secured for new parkway rail station at Cottam

The spokesperson added: “We will continue to work with Preston City Council to look at options for the future of the bridge, including sourcing external funding for a new bridge, and managing its closure.”

The inspection in February 2019 found:

  • Cracking to the pre-stressed concrete beams, affecting their strength.
  • Cracking to the light weight concrete trestle supports due to issues with the original construction of the bridge deck resulting in the concentration of load where the beams are supported.
  • Degradation of the concrete and corrosion of the steel reinforcement in the trestle supports.
  • Poor condition of the raking struts beneath the bridge which supported the original wooden bridge deck. These are not needed to support the current concrete deck but are a risk to anyone using the path under the bridge.

Michael Nye from the Friends of Tram Bridge Facebook group said: “In the two years we have put a petition together with nearly 600 signatures which we presented to the MP for South Ribble who was supportive of our aims.

“We have built up a massive body of evidence relating to the state of the bridge.

“We have formed a committee and will soon be able to attract funding and possible grant aid to get the bridge back to what it should be.

“We have had multiple meetings with the councils concerned but they have as yet to actually do anything positive about getting this unique historic structure restored.”

A diversion is in place at the nearby Avenham Viaduct Bridge instead.

Councillor Robert Boswell, Cabinet member for environment and community safety, said: “We understand the closing of the Old Tram Bridge last year was disappointing for users of the park, but the decision was taken for safety reasons.

“The major faults identified with the structure unfortunately cannot be readily fixed and would in fact involve the removal and replacement of the whole bridge deck. Such work would be extremely expensive but equally would not provide the future longevity of the structure that a new bridge would.

“The City Council, in partnership with Lancashire County Council, will continue to seek out funding opportunities for the Old Tram Bridge. No definite decision has yet been made to demolish the bridge, and in the meantime it must remain closed for the protection and safety of the public.”

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