Flood-hit Tadcaster bridge opens to reunite town

media captionFlood-hit Tadcaster bridge reopens after 13 months

A flood-hit bridge in North Yorkshire has reopened after being closed for more than a year.

The listed 18th Century bridge over the River Wharfe in Tadcaster partially collapsed on 29 December 2015.

The town was cut in two to traffic, with the only crossing being a temporary footbridge built a year ago.

The reopening had been slightly delayed with "unusual and persistent" high river levels adding to the construction problems.

However, North Yorkshire County Council said repairs of this kind would normally take about two years and it had been "extremely challenging" to get the bridge open.

image copyrightNorth Yorkshire County Council
image captionHundreds of people crossed Tadcaster Bridge after its official reopening
image captionWork on the newly reopened bridge went on right until the opening ceremony

Work to paint road markings on the new surface of the bridge section of the A659 was going on until minutes before the official ribbon-cutting.

Patricia Ford, who lives in the town and was among crowds of onlookers, said: "The opening means the world, everybody is together again and it's an exciting day.

"I hope we don't get flooded again."

media captionFootage showed the moment a bridge collapsed in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire

At the bridge: BBC reporter Phil Bodmer

There was huge sense of anticipation in Tadcaster this morning ahead of the reopening of the bridge.

By my calculation, it's been 401 days since the bridge partially collapsed following flooding caused by the Boxing Day storms.

Since then local residents have faced massive detours to simply get from one side of the town to the other.

A short time before the bridge opened, the final stone was laid and engineers resurfacing the carriageway put the final layer of tarmac onto the road.

Road traffic was allowed to drive over the bridge for the first time shortly after the official reopening.

The bridge was repaired and widened with about £4m of funding, the council said.

The last stone was put in place on the bridge's parapet wall earlier, it said.

With the bridge closed, motorists have faced a long diversion along the A64 to reach the other side of town.

image copyrightNorth Yorkshire County Council
image captionThe 18th Century bridge has been reconstructed and widened

The Tadcaster bridge story

First stone bridge crossing the river built around 1200

The present bridge was built around 1700

Parts of town hit on 26 December 2015 during severe winter floods

Bridge partially collapsed 29 December 2015

Temporary footbridge opened 12 February 2016

Repaired and widened bridge opened 3 February

image copyrightJoe Giddens/PA
image captionThe bridge collapse split the town in two to traffic
image copyrightInpho
image captionNorth Yorkshire County Council took the decision to reconstruct the bridge after a meeting with the military, Highways England and the Department for Transport
image copyrightMary Evans Picture Library
image captionA temporary footbridge was built over the river

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