Shropshire Council’s initial statements that Ludford Bridge will be closed for three to four weeks have proved to be over optimistic. The bridge has already been closed for more than a fortnight. It be another six or seven weeks before it reopens.
All work on the bridge requires the consent of Historic England, the nation’s heritage guardian. An application for scheduled monument consent was made on 2 March. Historic England says it will process the application as quickly as it is able to.
It is important that any stone used is a good match to that originally used for the bridge. Some will be recovered from the river but additional stone will need to be sourced from quarries. Stone samples have been obtained from Bridgnorth Green and Myddle Quarries in Baschurch, which are owned by Shropshire Stone. A decision on the stone source should be made this Thursday. That choice will need to be approved by Historic England.
In the meantime, the broken area of wall needs protecting. Contractors Ringway have been instructed to install a tarpaulin sheet to protect the face of the damaged wall. This work is planned for today (8 March).
It is hoped that repair work will begin next week. The initial plan for work is as follows:
1 week. Site mobilisation, erect temporary scaffold system and recover existing stone from river.
4 weeks (maximum). Stone remedial repairs to upstream cutwater and parapet.
1 week. De-mobilise, clear scaffold system, remove diversion signage and clear the site.
This may change as work gets underway. The work is very weather dependent. Heavy rain or cold temperatures may delay work because as the lime mortar that must be used to repair the historic fabric of the bridge will not set. This means that we are looking at a reopening date of late April. I hope it will be sooner.
The current diversion signs are not very effective. New diversion signs were ordered a while back and are due to be put on the A49 today or tomorrow. The traffic lights have been turned off to prevent drivers jumping red lights and increasing the risk of an accident.