A NEW bridge has opened to traffic more than two years after its predecessor was declared unsafe.

Work has been going on to build a new crossing over the Deerness River between Ushaw Moor and New Brancepeth, near Durham after the previous bridge was found to be dangerous.

The bridge cost around £1.5m to build and replaces one which had been there for more than a century.

Meanwhile, Durham County Council was left red-faced after motorists using the diversion route, put in place for the final few weeks of work, pointed out spelling mistakes on several signs.

The signs caused some raised eyebrows after the council managed to misspell not just one of the nearby villages, but two – on separate signs.

Motorists following the diversion may have been left confused by the signs warning drivers about access to “Usher Moor” and “New Branchpeth”.

Reader John Marsland, who sent the photographs, said: “Do they need spelling lessons?”

The errors were described as “disappointing” by Mark Readman, Durham County Council’s highways manager.

He said: “We are obviously disappointed that these spelling mistakes have been made.

“We will be reminding staff of the need for accuracy.”

The bridge reopened at 5am yesterday, following a year-long construction period.

The 116-year-old bridge first closed in April 2016, after Durham County Council engineers discovered issues with its structural integrity during a routine inspection.

A temporary bailey bridge had been in place for much of the interim period but was removed last month for the final stage of work.

People living in the area have been subject to one-way systems, road closures and long diversions at times during the 28-months it has taken to replace the bridge.

Deerness councillor Marion Wilson said: “People are very relieved.

“It’s been a thorn in people’s sides for the last two years really so it will be such a relief now that it’s done.

“Especially for the people in Station Road, Ushaw Moor, who have had to put up with a lot of noise during the work – even up to 4am on Tuesday.”

She added: “It looks good from the photographs, though I haven’t had the chance to drive along it yet.”

The bridge was meant to open at the end of July but was delayed caused by a utility company.