The first steel beams for the new Eastham Bridge are due to arrive on to the site in mid-October, allowing work to get underway on a permanent replacement for the collapsed brick structure.
On May 24th the bridge over the River Teme collapsed as the central archway of brick, built in the 18th century and listed as a Grade II structure by English Heritage, crumbled into the river as a school bus was approaching.
A temporary crossing cannot be built anywhere else on the river, as it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and getting permission to build anything would likely take many months – making it worthless to do so, compared with erecting a permanent replacement in the same position.
While an exact replica of the original is not an option either, Worcestershire County Council have issued details of the solution, which will lead to the least amount of disruption and get traffic flowing again as quickly as possible, saving local residents and through-traffic from a ten-mile diversion.
Councillor Marcus Hart, Cabinet member with responsibility for highways, explained: “There is a lot of work to do. We will be bringing large steel beams and equipment on to the site.
“The new bridge that we will be building cannot be a like for like replacement for the old, listed bridge, but it will include some of the original elements of the old bridge and most importantly will get people moving across the river as quickly as possible.”
Materials are due to arrive from mid-October, with the steel beams to support the new road deck to be incorporated into the remaining stable elements of the old listed brick structure; the new permanent river crossing is expected to be completed by April, meaning residents can begin crossing there again just under a year since the original incident.