NOTWITHSTANDING the failure of British Waterways to do anything to save Sutton Swing Bridge over the Weaver, a council has stepped in to save it suffering its death by traffic.
Cheshire West & Chester Council have recommended spending £3.5m over two years to help with the refurbishment of British Waterways' 90 years old Sutton Swing Bridge.
The cash will meet the majority of the estimated £4.5m needed for major refurbishment and re-strengthening required to enable the ageing bridge to cope in the future with its current 40 tonne vehicular weight restriction. It is hoped that British Waterways will also provide cash.
The bridge carries an estimated 20,000 vehicles a day on the A56 over the Weaver and is the only suitable road crossing across the river for miles in each direction.
Councillor Lynn Riley, explained:
"We must act before the bridge deteriorates to the stage where a weight limit has to be imposed and heavy lorries have no escape route if the motorway is blocked."
Work to replace the bridge deck, repairs to the parapets and repainting of the bridge's shabby steelwork structure will begin in Spring next year.
The bridge will not close to pedestrians or vehicles during the 10 months operation, though road traffic will be reduced to single lane operation controlled by traffic lights. It will not be completely closed as told by British Waterway, that was seen as an excuse for doing nothing.
But we must not forget the sheer determination of Tom Reynolds to get Sutton Swing Bridge restored, even to volunteering to do it himself with helpers, and getting the paint free into the bargain. That was thrown out by British Waterways on its health and safety grounds. Tom even formed a group to further the restoration of the bridge after the local council would do nothing.
Tom can be proud of his efforts to restore Sutton Swing Bridge, and was kind enough to praise the media for helping him achieve his aim, and we were more than pleased to be part of it.