Footbridge deemed ‘unsafe’ could be closed until December 2021

Fen Bridge in East Bergholt could now be closed until December 2021 due to it being deemed unsafe. P

Fen Bridge in East Bergholt could now be closed until December 2021 due to it being deemed unsafe. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

A bridge over the River Stour, which is used by walkers to go between the villages of East Bergholt and Dedham, could be closed until the end of next year after highways officials deemed it unsafe.

Lifting the bridge into place Picture: DAVID KINDRED

Lifting the bridge into place Picture: DAVID KINDRED - Credit: DAVID KINDRED

Fen Bridge, in East Bergholt, has been a crossing for hundreds of years and was used by painter John Constable on his way to and from school.

However, the bridge is not the original used by Constable - and the current structure, a replica, was lifted into place by a RAF Chinook helicopter in 1985 and opened for public use following a celebration later that year.

It was temporarily closed by Suffolk Highways back in June following safety concerns and was previously planned to reopen in December of this year.

At the time, Suffolk County Council said the closure would be for an initial period of 21 days as the bridge was “unstable”. Co-ordinated works have since been taking place at the bridge.

However, now the temporary closure order of footpath 30 has been extended and could be in place until December 2021 – nearly 18 months after it first closed.

A spokesman for Suffolk Highways said: “Fen Bridge in East Bergholt was closed in June following safety concerns, due to deterioration of the main timber beams. We are inspecting the bridge on a weekly basis to monitor its condition.

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“Following the ongoing study into what can be done to reopen the bridge, a detailed design will then begin.

“Robust barriers have been erected and the public are being asked not to attempt to use the bridge. The date for reopening is not known at this stage.”

The alternative route for pedestrians will be as follows:

• From East Bergholt and Flatford (northern side) footpath 30, footpath 32, footpath 34, footpath 47, Flatford Road, footpath 44 and no vice versa.

• From Dedham (southern side) footpath 44, footpath 17, Mill Lane, footpath 29, footpath 49 and no vice versa.

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