CAMPAIGNERS calling for a condemned bridge to be replaced are expected to stage a protest at County Hall tomorrow.

Witton Park Bridge was shut to all traffic including cyclists and pedestrians after serious structural defects were discovered during repair works by Durham County Council last year.

'People talking of moving out' over Witton Park bridge closureWitton Park Bridge could cost council about £5.6m to replace

The council is now consulting the public about four options for its future from demolition to a new road bridge costing £5.6m.

Residents of surrounding villages attended a public meeting on June 7, at which the majority of people called for the bridge to be repaired and reopened to vehicular traffic as soon as possible.

They argue that the four mile diversion adds time and expense to regular journeys, the route is unsuitable for the volume of traffic now using it and the closure having a negative impact on those using the route for social, volunteering and leisure activities.

Save Our Bridge campaigners plan a protest at County Hall, in Durham, ahead of Wednesday morning's full council meeting.

They have asked supporters to meeting at Witton Park Village Hall at 8.15am. A limited number of spaces will be available on a community mini bus and anyone else will be asked to car share.

The Northern Echo:

Brian Buckley, strategic highways manager at Durham County Council, said: “Last year, while undertaking scheduled repairs to Witton Park Bridge, we discovered serious structural defects, which left us with no choice but to extend the planned 20-week closure.

“Since then, a detailed assessment has confirmed the bridge is structurally unsound and must remain closed. A decision on the future of the bridge has not been made but we wanted to share with the public, especially the local communities most affected, the four options available and the associated costs.

“A report will be prepared to help the council consider and decide upon the best way forward.”

The diversion that is in place goes via the A68 and Witton-le-Wear and is approximately four miles long.

The council's four options are replacing the structure with a new three-span bridge capable of carrying full highway live loading with an estimated cost of £5.6m, replacing the structure with a three-span bridleway bridge costing around £1.6m, strengthening and refurbishing the existing bridge and potentially imposing weight restrictions with an estimated cost of £2.5m and removing the existing bridge deck and permanently closing the structure which would still cost around £1m.