Coastal businesses affected by footbridge closure to receive share of £5k a month
- Credit: Archant
Businesses affected by the repair of the footbridge connecting Southwold and Walberswick are to receive a share of £5,000 for every month it is closed.
The Bailey bridge over the River Blyth is to close on July 2 and is expected to be shut until the end of September.
A 2018 report on the safety of the bridge uncovered "severe corrosion" in its support beams.
As the bridge is frequently used by tourists as a shortcut between the two coastal resorts, business owners have called for the repairs to be delayed as they recover from the Covid lockdowns.
However, an inspection of the structure in April found that the revamp needed to be completed in milder conditions over the summer.
One pub owner previously said it was "almost impossible to predict a more damaging time" for the closure.
In light of the impact of the repairs, Suffolk Highways has announced a number of mitigation measures for the affected businesses.
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These include support packages of £5,000 a month for the duration of the closure, which councils will split across affected businesses.
Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for operational highways, said the revamp is one of Suffolk Highways' "top priorities" and sympathised with firms affected by the closure.
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He added: "The Bailey bridge connecting Walberswick with Southwold is an incredibly important structure in the east of our county.
"Refurbishment of this bridge is vital for the thousands who use it, whether they’re visitors when exploring our coastal walks, or locals who shop and work between the two communities.
"We fully recognise that the timing of this closure presents a challenge, especially in light of the lockdown easing.
"However, this has been the first opportunity at which we have been able to carry out the works following recent confirmation of budget and the need for mild weather conditions to carry out the work safely and effectively.
"We are pleased that the Bailey bridge has continued to serve our communities over the past couple of years since the temporary repairs were carried out, however now it is time for a full refurbishment."