Lack of action is a bridge too far for worried residents

Damaged caused to the bridge in Hurst Green caused by the recent heavy rain.
Damaged caused to the bridge in Hurst Green caused by the recent heavy rain.

Fears are mounting that an historic bridge, which was severely damaged after a landslide during recent floods, is in danger of collapsing.

Cracks have appeared in the 100ft high Hurst Green village bridge and residents are calling for immediate action for the structure to be repaired.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “This is a major problem that has been going on for some time, not just with the recent flooding and bad weather. The time has now come for action before something disastrous happens.

“There is a real fear that the bridge may collapse if repairs are not carried out immediately. We have reported this several times in the past three years.’’

The damage has been caused by a landslide on a slope supporting the bridge after recent storms and flooding. The bridge is on the main stretch of road linking Whalley and Clitheroe to Preston and Longridge and is a busy school route and is also regularly used by wagons, lorries and cars daily.

Villagers fear they will be cut off if it collapses as they face a 10 mile detour just to get to Longidge and Preston.

A two mile stretch of road between Hurst Green and Hodder Bridgei s also littered with at least 47 sunken drains and several potholes. Also in Hodder Bridge a 10 foot section of pavement has collapsed due to subsidence.

Hodder Bridge itself has also been partially closed to one way traffic over the last 12 months while awaiting bridge repairs and this has caused congestion at peak times.

The resident added: “I appreciate that cuts have to be made but these are urgent issues that require attention by Lancashire County Council. The main road from Hodder Bridge to Hurst Green looks like it has been hit by a a cluster bomb.

“This is an area of outstanding national beauty that we are very proud of and that attracts many tourists but it just seems that vital issues are being brushed under the carpet.

“The county council receives a lot of money to pay for the repair and upkeep of our roads and bridges and we want to see a long term plan put into place.’’

Another bridge connecting Hurst Green and Dinckley across the River Ribble has been closed following flooding in December. The suspension bridge was built in 1950 but was declared unsafe due to structural damage and river debris smashing into it during the floods.

In Whalley, residents are demanding action on the Old Sols Bridge in Longworth Road which was also badly damaged during the floods and has remained closed since December.

Regularly used by Billington pupils as a route into school in Whalley they now have to use the busy main road through Whalley instead and Councillor Ged Mirfin is worried there may be accident if the bridge is not repaired soon.

He said: “As far as I am aware there has not been a detailed examination of the bridge to assess the damage.

“This is something that needs to be done as soon as possible.’’

Coun. Mirfin has now approached Saji Karim MEP who has promised to look at infrastructure funding to pay for the re-building of the bridge.

County Coun. John Fillis, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “All the bridges referred to by Coun. Mirfin were initially inspected on December 27th, the day after the flooding occurred, and there have been further inspections since then.

“However, the December storms were unprecedented in their ferocity and scale, damaging infrastructure across the whole of Lancashire.

“In parts of the county, damage to roads and bridges has left diversions of more than 30 miles. We have to prioritise our response and whilst we will repair these bridges this work has to be done in a planned and coordinated way which cannot be done overnight.”

“Damage to the bridge at Hurst Green was reported on Monday, January 25th and inspected on the same day.

“Our engineers will closely monitor its condition.”