The Marsh Lock footbridge is likely to remain closed throughout 2023 the EA has now confirmed.
Resident, Mark Rowberry has been in contact with the EA since last year trying to find out what was happening with the footbridge. He raised a complaint to the EA in December 2022 asking why there was no sign of work being carried out since the footbridge was closed last May. Mark received the following response, “From our initial surveys to understand the structural integrity of the wooden bridge it was found there are a significant number of bridge parts that require replacing or remedial work before the bridge can be re-opened. In addition, we commissioned a below water survey of the bridge to better understand the condition of the wooden bridge piles, and to inform future river bed/ground investigations, so that our assessment of options for the bridge are more accurately informed. In summary, the bridge is constructed from wood which has deteriorated over time, the scale and nature of this needs to be fully assessed. Once this has concluded, we are happy to share the outcome of this work.”
Mark has continued to contact the EA to get an update on what is happening and raised the issue with John Howell last week.
The EA have now responded by saying this week “We have subsequently established that the bridge requires either a major refurbishment or replacement before it can be reopened. We have been working with professional partners and specialist advisors to determine the most effective investment plan for the bridge. This will include the necessary legal considerations and funding applications to ensure any refurbishment works are affordable. The scale of the work required at Marsh Head Horsebridge is likely to result in the bridge remaining closed throughout 2023. I apologise for all the inconveniences this will cause and will ensure the project programme is brought forward as much as possible, alongside the competing priorities of our wider Navigation capital investment programme.
“We are grateful to the landowner who has generously enabled a temporary footpath diversion over his land. We have been in regular contact with his land agent and will continue to do so as we prepare our arrangements for the footpath diversion beyond April 2023.”
The Schwarzenbach family offered a diversion across their land in May 2022, building a temporary bridge over a stream to give access to walkers in both directions. In December, the Estate Manager for Culden Faw Ltd, acting on behalf of the Schwarzenbach family wrote to the EA giving them notice that the temporary footpath diversion across their land will be closed on 1 April 2023. In the email to the EA in December, Alex Dick, Estate Manager stating the date, said, “There are a number of reasons they wish to do this, the primary one being the increased use of the route by horses and vehicles at that time (and the associated danger to the public and hence increased liability) and also the inordinate amount of time it is/has taken the EA to progress things. You will, I am sure, sympathise with their position which, if nothing else, might focus the EA’s minds on the urgency of the situation as it is my belief they are taking the easy option as we have provided a solution, hence the sense of urgency to fix the problem has been lost.”
Alex has confirmed today that “No response has been received from the EA since December.”