Footbridge in Preston's Avenham Park closed indefinitely over safety concerns

Footbridge in Avenham and Miller Park closed
Footbridge in Avenham and Miller Park closed
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A footbridge popular with walkers and cyclists in Preston’s Avenham Park has been closed indefinitely.

The bridge carrying the Old Tram Road over the River Ribble has been closed for safety after an inspection raised concerns about its condition.

Uncertain whether it will be able to reopen the Old Tram Bridge Lancashire County Council has put a diversion in place directing people to use the nearby Avenham Viaduct Bridge instead.

County coun Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport at LCC, said: "I'm sorry we've had to close the Old Tram Bridge, however this is our only option after the recent inspection raised concerns about its safety.

"The original bridge was built in 1802, however it has been completely re-built in the 20th Century. The current bridge piers which are made of reinforced concrete date to the 1930s, and the pre-stressed concrete deck dates to the 1960s.

"These elements have reached a point where they need to be replaced.

"Officers are now looking into the options and we will let people know more as soon as we can."

A footpath along the south bank of the river linking to Winery Lane behind the Capitol Centre at Walton le Dale to the east and Lower Penwortham to the west has also been closed at the point where it passes under the bridge.

Cyclists and walkers are being advised to check alternative routes.

The county council says it has been closely monitoring the condition of the Old Tram Bridge in recent years as maintenance issues have emerged, with some work being carried out to manage them.

However, the age of the bridge and the nature of the problems meant that it would eventually need to be replaced with a new one.

A working group has been formed to consider the options available and next steps.

The recent 'principal' bridge inspection involved a bridge engineer closely examining every element of the structure, using pontoons and scaffolding to access the underside of the bridge. This type of detailed inspection is usually carried out every six years, with general inspections being carried out every year.

The problems identified include:

• Cracking to the pre-stressed concrete beams, affecting their strength.

• Cracking to the light weight concrete trestle supports due to issues with the original construction of the bridge deck resulting in the concentration of load where the beams are supported.

• Degradation of the concrete and corrosion of the steel reinforcement in the trestle supports.

• Poor condition of the raking struts beneath the bridge which supported the original wooden bridge deck. These are not needed to support the current concrete deck but are a risk to anyone using the path under the bridge.