Footbridge over River Stour closed over fears of collapse
- Credit: Suffolk Highways
Canoeists and rowers are being urged to avoid a section of the River Stour between the popular tourism spots of Dedham and Flatford over concerns about a footbridge.
The Fen Footbridge has been closed to pedestrians since June 2020 after defects were spotted during a safety inspection but now fears of a collapse are escalating and the Environment Agency is urging people to avoid the area.
There are concerns the bridge may collapse into the water and the agency say under no circumstances should anyone attempt to navigate beneath it. The stability of the bridge is being monitored.
Closure signs are being installed at the site and highways contractors are looking into portage provision around the closure and Suffolk County Council is working on arrangements for its removal and replacement.
Paddlers and walkers are being warned it could be out of action until Christmas.
A spokesperson for Suffolk Highways, said: "On Saturday 8 May, Suffolk Highways and the Environment Agency made the decision to close the river path, between Dedham and Flatford due to concerns of Fen Bridge’s stability. Fen Bridge is also currently closed to pedestrians.
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"Please do not attempt to cross under the bridge. Please safely exit prior to the closure point and continue after the closure point."
The Flatford National Trust posted a statement on Facebook, which said: "If you are planning to visit Flatford this weekend and kayak, paddleboard or swim in the river, please note that the Environment Agency has closed the river Stour under Fen Bridge to all water users.
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"This means you cannot reach Dedham via the river Stour from Flatford. The Environment Agency are working on a temporary solution until the bridge can be removed by Suffolk County Council.
"Please note that Flatford bridge remains open so you can still access the walks at Flatford. The National Trust Tea Room, gift shop, toilets and car park at Flatford are open as planned."
There are alternative routes in place for pedestrians and they are 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.