Old Tram Bridge: Collapse warning after 200 faults found

Old Tram Bridge
Image caption It has not yet been established whether Lancashire County Council or Preston City Council owns the bridge

A bridge in Lancashire is to remain closed indefinitely because it is at risk of collapse and it is not known who is responsible for its repair.

Engineers inspected The Old Tram Bridge, which spans the River Ribble in Preston, and found 200 structural defects in the beams.

The route was closed in February after significant deterioration was found.

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition to save the bridge, originally built in 1802.

Public safety

Lawyers are trying to determine whether the Lancashire County Council or Preston City Council owns the bridge.

The county council's bridges manager, Dave Hurford, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the defects were "critical" and further tests were needed.

"It would be premature to speculate on whether it's repairable - economically or in terms of the engineering [required]," he added.

Image caption The bridge and the footpath underneath it have been closed indefinitely

The crossing, which runs from Avenham Park into South Ribble, scored 35 on the bridge condition scale, with anything below 40 considered "very poor condition".

Cracks have been found in the concrete on two-thirds of the beams, which were installed in 1966.

Water is now able to access wires and could cause them to corrode.

Connections between the beams are also at risk of breaking and rolling off their supports, inspectors noted.

Cabinet member for Highways Keith Iddon said he had to put public safety first, adding: "It's not the report I wanted, but the last thing I want is any member of the public to be hurt."

The 1802 structure was rebuilt in 1935 after being badly damaged by high flood waters.

Image caption Councillor Keith Iddon said people either side of the river want to use the bridge and it was "part of Preston"

Preston City Council's cabinet member for the environment, Robert Boswell, said that the bridge remained "a part of people's childhoods and lives".

Michael Nye, of the Friends of the Old Tramroad Bridge group, which has petitioned to save the bridge, said it was "a piece of heritage".

"It's a repairable bridge and it has to be repaired - it is unique.

"We have got a team of more than 1,600 people who can help - we don't want to campaign against the council, we want to help."

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