Permanent repairs to bridges destroyed during catastrophic flooding in the Yorkshire Dales in summer 2019 is about to start.
Both Cogden North bridge, on the B6270 Richmond to Grinton road, and Cogden South bridge on the C106 near Grinton Moor, will be replaced with permanent bridges, beginning on 14 September.
The night the bridges collapsed, Swaledale saw a month of rain fall in just one night. In the space of hours, land and property was destroyed and bridges washed away. Some residents were left standing with only the clothes they had on their backs. But despite the adversity, the council and community pulled together to get a semblance of normality back as soon as they could. The county council acted fast to build temporary roads at both the Cogden South and Cogden North bridges.
The Bridge Inn at Grinton sits down the road from the Cogden North bridge. When the structure collapsed, landlord Andrew Atkin was cut off. If it hadn’t been fixed, footfall to the pub would be depleted and so would his custom. When the temporary bridge was put in place, Andrew was the first to drive across it. He said: “The work on the bridge is important to me and to the Dale because without it we were effectively cut off. Without a bridge, the economic results would have been catastrophic. So the work starting on the permanent bridge is good.”
Andrew remembers the night the flooding happened. When the flooding happened, the becks broke their banks and two small footbridges washed away.
He said: “I’d been watching the rain and I saw a few stones fall out, then suddenly the bridge had collapsed. “It was quite biblical really, I put some towels at the door in the bottom bar… but then the flooding burst through the wall.”
Andrew added the response from the community was heartening, with people picking up the scattered bricks from the bridge the next morning.
North Yorkshire County Council worked closely with residents to ensure they were up to date with any new information – something Andrew appreciated.
He said: “North Yorkshire County Council were fantastic, too. They dug out the back and they were also using the car park to put materials on, but had information centres on the car park which meant people could get updates on exactly what was going on. That meant a lot to me and the community, it was just very helpful at a time when we needed it.”
Geraldine Coates, chair of the Grinton and Ellerton Abbey Parish Council, also recalls that morning. She said: “The beck overflowed its banks and ran down the road, the road resembling a river bed with stones, boulders and debris. The following morning a lot of people came out to clear the road of debris to allow traffic to move about. The County Council acted very swiftly in the aftermath of the flood and had the temporary bridges up in record time, enabling communications to carry on as normal. It is very good news that they are now following through and rebuilding the permanent structures in the original dales vernacular style.”
She added the parish council is still raising funds to carry out work to stabilise the becksides of the village green and parking area to prevent more flooding in the future.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “When the two Grinton bridges collapsed last July, our bridges and highway teams worked closely with the local community to repair the damaged bridges and get the roads re-opened. “Now we are ready to begin the construction of new bridges to serve local residents and visitors for decades to come."
County Councillor Yvonne Peacock, member for the Upper Dales, said: “The bridges are part of a vital infrastructure in the Dales and it’s a positive step that work is starting on them. “When the floods happened, the local community and county council reacted very quickly to a difficult situation – working together to find a solution. North Yorkshire County Council will continue to do that going forward.”
The work to rebuild the Cogden North bridge on the B6270 will begin on 14 September and is anticipated to be completed by 30 November 2020.
The B6270 will remain open as usual during the reconstruction, but there will be some traffic management using two-way lights toward the end of the scheme, with a one-night road closure when the new bridge units are lifted into place. Access will be maintained throughout the works with the exception of the night closure.
The work to rebuild the Cogden South bridge is programmed to begin on 14 September and anticipated to be completed by 25 January 2021.
The location of this bridge means there is very limited space for contractors to work safely and effectively while the road is open. Engineers have carefully considered the need to complete these works as quickly and safely as possible with the minimum of disruption. To achieve this, a full road closure will be required for the 16-week construction period, with no access for pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles, due to the alignment of the road and the space needed for the construction works to be carried out safely.