A bridge shut down in July after flash flooding hit south Shropshire may not reopen to traffic for six weeks.
Engineers began £75,000 work on Monday to repair Rea Bridge in Neen Sollars, which carries the road from the village to Neens Hill over the River Rea. It was closed on July 14 after parts of it collapsed in severe floods, effectively cutting the small community in half.
Shropshire Council said because the bridge was so narrow it would need to remain closed to cars while the repair work was carried out.
Simon Jones, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member responsible for bridge maintenance, said: “The bridge has had to be closed in the interest of safety after a totally unforeseeable flood, which is understood to have been the worst in living memory.
“It is appreciated that this is causing some disruption and inconvenience, and everyone involved will do all that they reasonably can to repair and reopen the bridge as soon as is reasonably possible.”
The council said temporary scaffolding would occupy most of the space available on the bridge, meaning it will not be possible for quad bikes and horse riders to cross the bridge while repairs take place.
However, access over the bridge for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists will remain available throughout the work. Until the bridge is reopened, traffic will continue to be diverted along a signed alternative route.
The repair work will involve scaffolding being put up on the bridge to allow for the building of a new foundation for the bridge’s south-western wing wall and rebuilding the bridge’s collapsed wing and parapet walls.
Engineers say they will erect the scaffolding on the bridge instead of building it up from the river bed, to reduce the risk of it being damaged by river-borne debris.
Engineers will remove the scaffolding before finally repairing the road surface over the bridge in the middle of October.
By Peter Finch