Leeds City Council has confirmed the much-anticipated date Linton Bridge will reopen next month following the completion of an extensive repair project.
The grade II-listed structure over the River Wharfe which connects the communities of Linton and Collingham will reopen to all users on Saturday 2 September for the first time since being closed due to significant flood damage caused by the impact of Storm Eva on December 27 2015.
The public reopening will be led by Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis, joined by invited partners and community representatives. Details of the opening event are currently in the process of being finalised.
The Grade II-listed structure which was built in the early to mid-19th century suffered major damage to its foundations during the floods, with the south pier visibly sinking along with cracks in the central and southern arches and damage to the stone parapets and walls of the bridge.
Working with Historic England and the Environment Agency, Leeds City Council developed and carried out an intricate programme to repair and strengthen the bridge while retaining its original appearance. The final repair cost of £5.1million, fully funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), reflects the complex and unique challenge of successfully carrying out the project.
The work was carried out in three phases, with the first stabilising the southern pier, using special concrete for use underwater. This filled the voids around the foundations that the floodwater left. Rock armour was also placed at the base of the piers to protect them from further flood damage.
A platform was created in the river in order to pile foundations to support a temporary steel structure to support the damaged bridge and allow the permanent repairs to follow.
The bridge was then reinforced with piles from road level to the bridge’s foundations, together with concrete slabs, effectively building a ‘bridge within a bridge’.
All stages of the repair needed to be carried out carefully to protect the listed nature of the structure, with much of the concrete strengthening work not being visible once complete to ensure the original visual look of the bridge has been maintained.
The final element of the project has seen infrastructure cables and pipes which run through the bridge supporting supplies of water, electricity, gas and communications reconnected.
The finishing touches will see the road surface being restored with kerbs, footways and road markings put in place, while the temporary structures in the river will be removed and the riverbed restored to its original profile.
Once reopened, the bridge will be fully restored to all road users including full bus routes and services. While the bridge was closed, a free shuttle bus service had been operating supported by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“Announcing the date for reopening Linton Bridge is fantastic news and is the culmination of an incredible effort by everyone to successfully carry out a repair project as challenging and demanding as any we have undertaken in Leeds.
“We would like to thank everyone involved or who has supported the project, the council officers, Department for Transport, the Environment Agency, Historic England and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. We would especially like to thank the residents of Linton and Collingham for their patience and understanding, and it is great that these two communities will shortly be fully connected once again.”
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“It should not be underestimated just what an amazing job has been done at Linton Bridge, as it represented a massively demanding physical and technical challenge to repair it. The solution to effectively create a ‘bridge within a bridge’ so it is stronger than ever but still looks the same as it did before is a real credit to the talent and ingenuity of all involved.
“We were determined to get the bridge reopened as soon as possible and before the end of the summer holidays, and we are delighted that we have been able to achieve that so life can start to return to normal for these two communities.”
Ian Tyler, Contracts Manager of contractor AE Yates, said:
“The project has been challenging both technically and in terms of tight time constraints. However, it has been a great example of teamwork and cooperation from all parties. This has enabled the bridge to be opened in early September.”
Following the bridge reopening, work will continue on site for a short period as the compound and excess materials are removed.