A BRIDGE which has been closed since it was damaged by a burst water main will not fully reopen until next year.

Moses Gate bridge, which carries traffic from Bolton Road and Egerton Street over the rail line, has been closed since the burst in mid-August.

Network Rail initially estimated it would take six weeks to repair the bridge and motorists expected it to reopen by the end of this month

But bosses have now announced the work will take much longer to complete.

A spokesperson said: “The bridge was badly damaged by a burst water main on August 17 when a large section of the retaining wall collapsed onto the railway below and created a hole in the road above.

“Work to stabilise the bridge and rebuild the road above is ongoing and is very complex. The bulk of the structural work is due to complete in mid-November when we will be able to reopen one lane of Egerton Street.

“Following the completion of service diversion work over the winter months, full reinstatement of both lanes is expected in February 2018.

“If we are able to open any part of the road earlier we will work with Bolton Council to make this happen.”

But Farnworth councillor Jean Gillies said she was ‘shocked and disappointed’ by the news.

She said: “I was under the impression it was opening imminently.

“What confuses me is that they knew the state it was in, so why give a six-week window when theoretically it was going to be longer. Surely they would’ve known? It’s just going to cause more mayhem and people are already struggling.”

Cllr Gillies added that she had done a school run in her car to see how bad things were for commuters.

Her trip, from the Flower Estate to Harper Green School, St James’ School and back - which would usually take about 10 minutes - took her an hour.

She added: “I’m a bit disappointed. Did they not know how bad it was? How have they given an estimate of six weeks and then gone into months when the surveyors would’ve looked at it.

“That length of time didn’t come from Bolton Council, it came from Network Rail. I’m a bit horrified they’ve gone from six weeks to four months.

“I would like to know how they could make such a massive mistake like that.

“I can understand an extra two or three weeks, but not five months.

I can’t believe it.”

She added: “It ‘s just more mayhem, especially with Christmas shopping coming up, I just think it’s going to get worse.”

Cllr Gillies also said she was also concerned about firms that have been hit hard by the closure.

“It’s having a big effect on the businesses in Egerton Street, without a shadow of a doubt,” she said.

Fellow Farnworth councillor Asif Ibrahim echoed Cllr Gillies comments.

He said: “I’m dismayed at this news.

“The situation was not one made by residents or local businesses, but it is them that are having to suffer the consequences of the issues that have arisen between United Utilities and Network Rail, resulting in the collapse.”