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Shoreham Footbridge to remain closed
The old Shoreham footbridge will remain closed to the general public for good because it has been deemed unsafe.
The northern end of the bridge was removed last week as part of six weeks of work to move BT cabling from the old bridge to a new £9.8m bridge being constructed nearby.
It was due to reopen next week, having been joined to the northern edge of the new bridge. But now West Sussex County Council engineers have assessed the condition of the existing bridge and deemed it not safe for public use.
Pieter Montyn, County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “The county council appreciates the inconvenience this will cause. However, despite the best efforts of everyone concerned to keep the footbridge open, it is in a worse condition than was expected.
"In the interest of public safety the footbridge will now remain closed until it can be fully demolished.”
A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said the footbridge was hit by a barge during high tide on September 16, with the damage described as ‘minimal.’
They continued: “When the engineers removed some of the bridge and assessed it during the closure, they described it as a bit dubious and said and they can’t guarantee people’s safety as it’s 100 years old. This coupled with the barge incident; it’s too much of a risk to open it.”
The County Council’s contractor, Osborne, will have access to the bridge during construction. The replacement bridge is still due to open in summer 2013, with the marine piling having been completed and seven piers already put in place.
During the closure, a free bus service has been laid on to travel between Riverside Road, Shoreham Beach, and Shoreham High Street.
Mr Montyn added: “The shuttle bus service will be maintained throughout the closure period and the county council has sought an improved service for those with mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs who are unable to access the shuttle bus service.”
Funding for the new bridge has come from sustainable transport charity Sustrans and West Sussex County Council. The charity received a £50 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund to extend the National Cycle Network into towns and cities across the UK.
BT Openreach has also completed the permanent cabling work under the River Adur and removed the temporary cables from the footbridge.
Sustrans Area Manager Nick Farthing said: “It’s disappointing that the current link has to close before the replacement bridge is open for use, but we know that Shoreham residents are looking to their fantastic new crossing, which will make it so much easier and safer to make local journeys on foot or by bike.”