Bishopthorpe Bridge: Concerns lorries will drive through Yorkshire villages while work is carried out on 'substandard' bridge

Work is set to take place on Bishopthorpe Bridge in York after it was ruled as substandard – sparking concerns over what it might mean for small villages nearby.

Installing a corrugated steel arch below the existing bridge will cost the City of York Council £300,000 after it was found to be substandard by the RAC Foundation. Coun Pete Kilbane, the council’s transport executive, confirmed the decision to strengthen the bridge as recommended by council officers.

James Gilchrist, the council’s director of transport, said: “We put in a weight restriction in October last year in response to an initial bridge structural survey which found that the bridge couldn’t take the normal road weight restrictions.”

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He said the council had done “considerable work” to ensure this decision could now be taken.

Bishopthorpe BridgeBishopthorpe Bridge
Bishopthorpe Bridge

Bishopthorpe Bridge is owned by Sustrans, but it is the council’s highway passing over it, leading to some legal complications in terms of how the work is funded.

Mr Gilchrist said: “At the moment Sustrans, like everybody, is struggling financially and is not sure it can afford to undertake these works and a weight restriction is a way of dealing with a substandard bridge.”

Legal discussions will “hopefully” conclude in the next four weeks, according to Mr Gilchrist.

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The work would be completed in “as short a time as possible”, the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands, and “the bridge itself shouldn’t close unless the council finds something drastic.”

However, the cycle path underneath will have to close with a diversion in place.

There are concerns by local councillors about heavy good vehicles going through small, rural villages which are not designed to take that kind of traffic.

Coun Chris Steward said: “It’s had a massive impact on Copmanthorpe with vehicles that would have gone through Bishopthorpe now going through Copmanthorpe.”

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He added: “For me, it always seems surreal seeing the size of these vehicles that are coming through the village and I’m really concerned about two particular areas.”

These were vehicles approaching junctions in the village and areas where there’s no path on the road.

Coun Steward: “It’s not just about getting the traffic back through Bishopthorpe, which I believe is a far, far safer route – I genuinely believe that – it’s about addressing the long-term issue of these heavy vehicles.”

He said heavy goods vehicles should be near motorways rather than going through villages.

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Coun Steward also said he wanted “to urge in the interim that we reopen the bridge to one side going away or from Bishopthorpe to heavy vehicles to halve the flow through Copmanthorpe.”

He added: “I appreciate that’s not ideal but to me, that would make sense.”Coun Kilbane said the issue of heavy goods vehicles in rural areas “is something I think would need to be looked at” but “the only way that would be looked at would be at a national level.”

The transport and economy executive added that it could be an issue the incoming mayor of York and North Yorkshire could review.

Coun Kilbane said: “It does have serious implications for people living in small villages that were designed to take horses and carts, not 20-tonne plus vehicles trundling through them. I’m not sure there’s a lot we as a local authority do other than put it on the radar of the new mayor whoever they are.”

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