Counting the cost of bridge breakdown

Whitby swing bridge stuck in the open position''w140103b
Whitby swing bridge stuck in the open position''w140103b

Whitby’s swing bridge broke down on Tuesday leaving residents stranded and businesses counting the cost.

It failed on Tuesday morning at around 6.30pm when it was opened for a boat to pass through but remained stuck in the open position.

Engineers were hastily drafted in and shuttle buses arranged by North Yorkshire County Council.

But people struggled to get to work and businesses were affected while diversions led to traffic congestion over the new bridge and around Mayfield Road traffic junction.

Gill Parker, who runs a coffee shop on Grape Lane said: “Business this time of year isn’t the greatest anyway, but the bridge closure certainly didn’t help.”

Her thoughts were echoed by Araucaria Jet Shop on old Church street.

Catherine Orrock said: “Church Street was especially dead due to the bridge we all need the most support at this time of year, the bridge didn’t help.”

Other businesses, including Hadley’s fish and chip restaurant and Humble Pie and Mash, closed early

Dave Agnew, owner of the pie shop said: “It has definitely cost us money.

“We are normally open until 8pm but closed at 4pm. It was pointless being open.

“Even with the buses coming over there were not enough people bothering to come over.”

A spokesperson for the county council said the bridge got stuck and locked when the jacks came down while the bridge was swinging open for river traffic.

They added that the jacks normally come down to hold the bridge in place for road traffic and so the bridge automatically locked as soon as the fault was detected.

There were also intermittent problems with the bridge breaking down over the weekend too.

The bridge, built in 1909, was upgraded last year with replacement of timber fenders and timber “dolphins”, new navigation lights, re-painting, waterproofing of electric cabling and the raising of electrical junction boxes onto the underside of the bridge above the waterline to prevent breakdown of the bridge mechanisms.

This meant the bridge remained operational during the recent floods but they did have an impact.

New technology also allows for faults to be tracked and located precisely to prevent failure and speed up repairs.