Sculcoates Bridge: No end date in sight for multi-million pound restoration project

More than three years after the closure of Sculcoates Bridge, there appears to be no end in sight to the multi-million pound project to restore it.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that no date for reopening the historic bridge has been put forward, as details emerged of a series of works costing £86,000, including a survey for unexploded bombs.

The Grade II-listed structure, which opened in 1874, is the oldest surviving bridge over the River Hull in the city.

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Sculcoates Bridge was closed early in 2020 after an inspection found it was no longer safe for vehicles to cross because its condition had deteriorated. The cost of work to reopen the bridge had been estimated at around £7m.

Sculcoates Bridge, also known as Chapman Street Bridge, in Hull.Sculcoates Bridge, also known as Chapman Street Bridge, in Hull.
Sculcoates Bridge, also known as Chapman Street Bridge, in Hull.

Pell Frischmann, a firm of engineering consultants, has been conducting preparatory works ahead of what is expected to be a full refurbishment. The £332,000 contract was announced in March 2022 and, at that time, the first phase was expected to take nine months.

Since then, nine pieces of work, which were not originally planned for, have been carried out at a cost of £86,000.

These works, which have been paid for out of the project’s overall budget, have included surveys for unexploded ordinance and inspections of the bridge’s deck and pintle (the bearing on which the bridge swings).

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River walls and timber fences have been inspected and a review has been undertaken into the “goalposts” used to try to prevent oversized vehicles from using the bridge.

A council spokesperson said: “Additional works on Sculcoates Bridge such as structural investigations, searches, and weight restriction methodology were identified during the feasibility works progressed by Pell Frischmann Ltd, who were appointed by Hull City Council to develop the refurbishment scheme for Sculcoates Bridge.

“The payment was made to cover the additional works carried out by Pell Frischmann Ltd and it is from the overall budget allocation for the bridge. After these additional works are complete, the final design of the bridge will be considered by cabinet before progressing with the refurbishment.”

Cllr Mark Ieronimo, the council’s Transport Portfolio Holder, said the additional works were clearly judged as essential, so he was happy to pay for them using money from the existing budget for the bridge.

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Previously, councillors have spoken of their hope of returning the historic bridge to its former glory.

The long-term plan for the bridge is likely to see measures being introduced to prohibit certain vehicles from using it to protect the structure from overloading, while access could also be reduced to a single lane, controlled by traffic lights.

The project has been funded through the council’s annual bridge maintenance budget.