Agenda item

Whitby Swing Bridge Update

Purpose: To update Members on maintenance issues regarding Whitby Swing Bridge


Considered –


An update on Whitby Swing Bridge maintenance issues provided by Phillip Richardson, the County Council’s Senior Bridge Engineer, which included an overview of the history of the bridge maintenance, the long-term plan for the bridge and longer term issues.


It was noted that it in 2012 a formal agreement was introduced that North Yorkshire County Council would carry out most of the maintenance functions and Scarborough Borough Council would operate it and carry out day to day maintenance. 


Phillip Richardson provided an overview of the major maintenance works carried out of the bridge since that time and confirmed that the remaining lifespan of the 112-year-old bridge would be in the region of 75 years subject to a high standard of maintenance during that time.   He went on to outline the planned maintenance scheduled, which included a re-surfacing scheme, and noted there were currently some VMS signs in place around the bridge set up by Area 3 colleagues.


Members paid tribute to work of John Smith, the previous bridge engineer who had recently retired.  They also acknowledged the strategic importance of the swing bridge and the work that had been done to improve the resilience of the structure to minimise the number of breakdowns and the length of time that there was disruption when it did breakdown.  They also accepted the bridge had many years of life left in it and that the maintenance regime in place would ensure the performance of the bridge remained good. 


However, the Chairman expressed some concern about the public’s perception about the bridge and the major impact it had on the town when it broke down.  In response officers confirmed:


·         Feedback from the recent consultations on the experimental closures had suggested the introduction of railings on the bridge.  It was noted this had not been pursued, as there was concern about the additional weight on the bridge and what the railings would be attached to, given that the kerbing currently in place were not suitable, and would make the pathways too narrow.


·         The procedure in place for when the bridge broke down, which included:

o   The contractor informing NYCC of a problem that cannot be fixed immediately (most were quick fixes).  Sometimes this was delayed due to the Contractor needing time to work out whether it was a problem that could be fixed remotely, or whether a site visit was required to identify the problem;

o   NYCC informing Passenger Transport, who would try to arrange an additional bus through a local provider – Again, there were occasions when this was delayed whilst the Contractor identified the nature of the problem and therefore the time required to carry out the repair;


The Chairman suggested an arrangement was required for the provision of an additional bus service when a repair was going to take up to 2+ hours, to mitigate the impact on the town.  Phillip Richardson confirmed this would require a new contract to be put in place with a bus provider.   


The Chairman also queried the likelihood of the bridge lasting another 75 years and what plan was in place should the bridge unexpectedly breakdown and not be repairable.  In response it was confirmed there were no designs in place that would allow the County Council to replace the bridge in 20yrs time, as any such designs would quickly become out of date. It was suggested that the initiation of temporary solutions such as the introduction of a temporary footbridge would be required whilst plans were drawn up for a replacement bridge.  The timeframe from design to completion for a new bridge would be approximately 2.5 years, at a cost of £10m+.


Outside of a catastrophic disaster, any increase in the deterioration of the bridge would be identified through the condition scoring undertaken regularly, which would initiate the commencement of a new design being drawn up at the appropriate time.


The Chairman thanked Phillip Richardson for his attendance and it was


Resolved – That the update be noted.

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