Bridge closure not required in the near future

The threat of Morpeth’s key access point closing for repairs in the next couple of years has been lifted.

Coun Nic Best reported to Morpeth Town Council that he was among the neighbourhood plan transport group members that recently had a meeting with highways officials from Northumberland County Council.

During the discussions, the officials said investigation work carried out at Telford Bridge has found that its condition is not as bad as was feared.

The town council and Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade have been told previously that structural repairs may have had to take place as soon as practically possible given the strain of large volumes of traffic each day.

Coun Best said after the town council meeting: “There was a chance that the bridge was going to be closed as soon as the Morpeth Northern Bypass opens, so it was pleasing to hear that this will not happen.

“The works will need to be done at some point, but now they are not seen as quite so urgent.

“We can all be grateful that Telford Bridge was over engineered in the first place.”

The three-span, stone bridge over the River Wansbeck was built in the 1830s as part of Thomas Telford’s grand scheme to improve the road from London to Edinburgh.

John Beynon of the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade said: “The Telford Bridge has been highlighted by the county council because improvement works are required and we were told that it may have to be closed within the next two years.

“We’ve now been told that it is not as bad as first thought, which is really good news for residents and businesses.

“We’ve just had the one-way system roadworks that had a big impact, but closing the bridge would have been much worse. It would have been a disaster for Morpeth.

“Now the threat has been lifted, we’re hoping that we’ll have a break from major roadworks in the next few years.”

The Morpeth Northern Bypass, which is scheduled to be completed in 2016, should reduce the amount of traffic using the Telford Bridge.

It will start from the existing Whorral Bank Roundabout on the A197 and head westward to connect to the A192 at Lane End, Fairmoor, then the A1 via a new all movements grade separated junction.

A county council spokeswoman said: “We carried out some investigatory work recently and we found the bridge to be in better condition than we had previously thought.

“We will not be carrying out any major works in the foreseeable future but, as always, we will carry out maintenance work on a planned basis.”