CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a historic bridge have welcomed a recommendation to repair the structure.

The proposal to repair Witton Park Bridge, near Bishop Auckland, was made at a public meeting at Witton Park Village Hall, on Friday, July 12.

The work is estimated to cost Durham County Council £2.5m and was one of four options being considered.

Brian Buckley, the strategic highways manager at Durham County Council said:

The structure was initially planned to shut for 20 weeks in July 2018, to allow Durham County Council to partially rebuild, clean, and paint it.

The main element of the proposed work involved blast cleaning and painting the existing steelwork.

Since the closure, a detailed assessment was carried out and it was confirmed the bridge was structurally unsound and must remain closed to all traffic – including cyclists and pedestrians.

A diversion was put in place via the A68 and Witton-le-Wear stretching four miles.

The four options being considered by Durham County Council included, strengthening and refurbishing the existing bridge and potentially imposing weight restrictions and removing the existing bridge deck and permanently closing the structure.

A group dedicated to saving the bridge visited Durham County Councils headquarters last month to share their concerns over the uncertain future of a bridge.

The group are planning to stage another protest outside of County Hall on Wednesday, July 17 at a council meeting.

Nick Brown, spokesperson for the campaign, vowed that the Save Witton Park Bridge campaign would keep up their peaceful pressure on the council.

He said: "Brian Buckley said he had just submitted his recommendation last week, which was that £2.5m should be found to enable the bridge to be repaired up to it's existing standard.

"Now that this is a political decision our focus shifts to demonstrating to the council decision makers the impact the bridge's closure is having on the wider area and to that end, I would urge anyone who is affected, to contact the Save Witton Park Bridge Facebook page or write to their local councillor."

Brian Buckley, Durham County Council’s strategic highways manager, said: “We have considered options for the future of Witton Park bridge and our preferred scheme would see the structure reopened to traffic at a cost of around £2.5m. We will be putting this forward to be considered for inclusion in our capital programme."