A car transporter has smashed into a road bridge, cutting off an important route between villages in the Esk Valley for at least several weeks.
The lorry, which was believed to be carrying a consignment of LandRovers, crashed into the left hand side of the Grade II listed structure in Grosmont near Priory Park on Friday at around midday, causing brickwork to fall into the river below.
David Creek, maintenance manager for North Yorkshire County Council Highways, said they immediately closed the narrow bridge to traffic and they are assessing the damage to the 211-year-old bridge which could take at least three weeks to repair.
Diversion signs were due to be put in place yesterday but the longer route is likely to cause untold misery for locals, bus and delivery drivers, posties and bin wagons among others who will have to make an 11-mile trip for a journey which would normally take minutes.
Mr Creek said: “Grosmont River Bridge is likely to be closed for two to three weeks but it may be more.
“We have to liaise with the Environment Agency because some of the structure has fallen into the watercourse and the bricks will need to be retrieved from the river.”
Police were called to the incident at Grosmont and later caught the driver in Pickering where he was breathalysed but no arrest was made.
Businesses in the village have also voiced their concern as the bridge will be shut over February half-term next week.
Phil Bustard, marketing manager for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, said the bridge closure will have a big effect on its business.
“It’s very inconvenient,” he said.
“We are so dependent on custom, especially at this stage in the year with February half-term.
“We’ve got a new steam engine called Joem running between Goathland and Grosmont over half-term and we are concerned this will have a detrimental effect on our passenger numbers and people could be put off if it means taking extra travelling time.
“We will have to go to extra lengths to explain to everyone to allow extra time to get here.
“It’s just very, very annoying and gives us great concern.”
Rob Davies, landlord of the Station Tavern in Grosmont, added: “All I’ve heard is it took down part of the road bridge but apparently it only cleared the railway bridge by inches.
“Obviously for people who don’t know the other way in through Sleights, it will cause them some hardship.
“It is going to be inconvenient for people across the other side of the bridge if they want to pop over here for a pint.”
Highways staff were also due to begin road resurfacing in Grosmont at the level crossing today and this work will continue as planned and is expected to take a day complete.