Worn out bridge is set to be replaced
8:47am Friday 13th July 2012 in Local
IT has been a bridge over troubled water for years, but soon the dilapidated footbridge between Farnworth and Little Lever will be replaced.
But first engineers must work out how to remove the existing structure, known as Wilsons Bridge, without damaging scientific and heritage sites nearby.
The meadow between the bridge and Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal became a designated site of “special scientific interest” after Natural England discovered rare moss and other protected plants growing there.
United Utilities, which is partly responsible for the bridge, along with Bolton Council, said that restricted access to the site is another problem.
The water company is paying for 90 per cent of the project, with the council covering the other 10 per cent.
Engineers will need a 500 tonne crane to put a new bridge in position, and the only crossing point over the canal is a neighbouring historic bridge with a 7.5 tonne weight limit.
United Utilities project manager Gary Marsh said: “The issues are so unusually complex that we are liaising with a host of different departments at Bolton Council and other key agencies so that we can put in a comprehensive planning application for the project.
“I can understand that residents are feeling some frustration with nothing happening on site, but there is a lot of planning work going on behind the scenes.”
When finished, the new bridge will look similar to the existing structure.
United Utilities is proposing to install a 50-metre steel truss section bridge, which will be slightly wider than the old one, to meet current regulations. Once work starts on the site, it should take five months to complete. United Utilities says it is working with the Canal and River Trust and Natural England to create a new canal crossing to protect the environment and heritage surrounding Wilsons Bridge.
The footbridge runs from Cemetery Road in Farnworth to Prestolee Road in Little Lever over the River Irwell and was shut down in 2008 when on the brink of collapse.
Pedestrians and residents in Kearsley have criticised the council and United Utilities for the delay in replacing the structure.
United Utilities have not set a start date for the removal of the bridge.
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