ENGINEERS are due to begin the final phase of work to repair and reopen Deerness Bridge.

The bridge crossing, between Ushaw Moor and New Brancepeth, west of Durham, was closed in April 2016 after routine inspections discovered it was no longer structurally sound.

A temporary bridge has been in place for the past two years while £1.5m of restoration and upgrade works have been underway – a project that is now entering its final few days.

Councillor Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “Over the past two years this major project has seen us refurbish this bridge to ensure that the crossing is able to continue providing a route for cars, busses, cyclists and pedestrians for many years to come.”

Repairs to the bridge were a complex process, due to the number of public utilities involved and the need for environmental consents to work in the river.

Engineers have also faced delays due to extreme weather, with heavy rain and snow in February and March this year causing flooding that damaged scaffolding and equipment.

The council has managed to retain much of the historic fabric of the bridge.

Durham County Council’s head of technical services, John Reed, said: “The refurbishment of the bridge has not been an easy process, but throughout we have tried as much as possible to minimise disruption to the local community, and we must thank the travelling public, businesses and motorists for their patience and understanding whilst we undertook this essential work.”

The final phase of works will see the bridge close to both vehicles and pedestrians for nine days from Saturday, July 21 until Sunday, July 29, as engineers connect the road on either side to the bridge, and remove the temporary Bailey bridge.

Signed diversions will be in place during this time.

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