Whitby Swing Bridge is to be closed to vehicles for safety on weekends during the summer school holidays.
Concerns over safety as a result of congestion on the bridge during summer weekends and special events have grown in recent years as the number of people visiting the town increases, says North Yorkshire County Council.
The closures will begin this Saturday (20 July) and continue until 1 September. This coincides with the school summer holidays and is a peak time for visitors. Closures will be between 10.30am and 6.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays. They will be extended to include the Bank Holiday Monday in August and closures may be in place for major events outside this period, as in recent years.
Traffic on the bridge is controlled by traffic signals, but during busy times the large number of pedestrians crossing means people often spill into the road, leading to concerns for safety.
In the past couple of years, North Yorkshire County Council has closed the swing bridge to traffic during busy weekends on the advice of the local police to keep pedestrians safe.
A meeting was held between the County Council and other interested parties, including the Harbour Office, Scarborough Borough Council and Police, to discuss the issue.
Cllr Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “Whitby is getting busier and busier and more and more frequently we are being called on to shut the bridge for public safety. However, reacting on demand at short notice can cause issues for the travelling public and local businesses.
“Taking the decision in advance to close the bridge at peak times that we know are likely to be busy gives certainty and consistency to visitors, regular users of the bridge and businesses in the area.”
Local County Councillor Joe Plant added: “I have been there many times at busy periods and seen it congested with cars waiting in the town centre near the bridge. For the safety of pedestrians and to avoid congestion, I think this is the right decision. We cannot ignore the situation. Protecting public safety is paramount.”
A signed diversion will be in place. Access for emergency vehicles will be maintained at all times.