Report identifies ‘severe corrosion’ on bridge whose closure has had ‘catastrophic’ impact on communities

The bailey bridge has been closed since the beginning of October Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The bailey bridge has been closed since the beginning of October Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A report on the condition of a footbridge which was closed on safety grounds has found it suffered “severe corrosion” – but can be reopened once “temporary measures” are completed.

Suffolk Highways closed the Bailey Bridge between Southwold and Walberswick earlier this month, saying it would not reopen until further notice.

Despite measures to minimise disruption, such as a free ferry service, the communities on either side of the river say it has caused a major inconvenience.

Mark Dober, who owns the Anchor pub in Walberswick, said: “I think everyone has underestimated what a catastrophic impact the bridge’s closure has had on the area. We’re hearing daily stories about people getting stranded on either side of the bridge – everyone has been caught offside by it.”

Suffolk Highways said had received the final 83-page report on the bridge from AECOM on Thursday, October 25.

“In summary, the report has confirmed that risks to the structure are due to the damaged timber bracing and the severe corrosion to the stringer beams which support the deck,” a spokesman said.

“Once the bracing has been repaired and temporary measures installed, where necessary, to address the weak stringer beams that support the deck there are other maintenance works identified in the report that require completing. These however are not required prior to the reopening of the bridge.”

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Suffolk Highways said it was now focussed on providing a specification for the repairs to the piers and deck so that the bridge can “at the earliest opportunity”.

The specification is expected to be ready by the end of next week. In the meantime teams are investigating the availability of materials and labour as well as tide times to carry out repairs to some of the timber bracing.

“Despite the pier repairs, the bridge will remain closed until temporary measures to address the weak stringer beams are completed,” the spokesman added.

Suffolk Highways is due to meet with stakeholders next week to discuss its plans.

Mr Dorber said he expected the structural engineers to provide good reasons as to why the bridge had been closed for so long already. “Otherwise there are going to be some serious questions to answer,” he added.

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