The Independent North Yorkshire councillor for Tadcaster says she has had meeting with those involved in the decisions to close Tadcaster’s bridge during flooding and it looks like more frequent closures will happen.
Kirsty Poskitt gave residents an update this week:
The bridge, which collapsed in flooding in 2015, has already been shut twice over safety fears, although it is sound and the closures were a precaution.
Cllr Poskitt said:
“I have met with senior officers at North Yorkshire Council to discuss the most recent closures and also the plans for the future.
“I met with the lead for Highways, Bridges and the Senior Flood Officer along with the Director for Business and Environment.”I met with the lead for Highways, Bridges and the Senior Flood Officer along with the Director for Business and Environment.
“My first question was, why had we faced two closures so close together at river levels that hadn’t previously seen the road closed.
“There was no simple answer to this question. The policy to close bridges is the same across the county. When the arches of the bridge are submerged in water the bridge no longer has the weight bearing capacity it has when not under water.
“NYC operates a risk strategy of bronze, silver and gold. At Bronze the bridge is under observation due to weather fronts in the area. Gold is a full closure.
“NYC are monitoring all of the bridges across the county and they do not make the decision to close any lightly. If they feel the risk is too high and the water remains high for an extended period then they will close the highway.
A New Normal
Cllr Poskitt added: “In truth there is every possibility that our bridge should have closed on several occasions over the years but it simply hasn’t. What we have to start to get used to is that this is a new normal for us. We are going to see the bridge close more often than we have historically.
“What I wanted to be very clear over was that whilst I understand and respect decisions made by those with more experience and knowledge than me, I want the council to work with the community to understand what will make the closures more manageable for all.
“At the suggestion of NYC they are going to deliver a Tadcaster Bridge Closure Protocol. This document will outline what is safe but also what is necessary to minimise the disruption in the town.
She says she has listened to resident feedback and the points that she made clear were the following:
•Better communication with the town. Both closures have happened very quickly with no warning, leaving residents with no time to plan. NYC have agreed to work with the Flood Action Group to provide an early warning when the bridge is at bronze level, this will give us a chance to let the community know when the Bridge is under observation and when it MAY close.
• Better highways signage. This was a major issue last time as there were no signs on the dual carriageway or motorway to let drivers know that the bridge was closed. Signs in the town were either too late or not positioned correctly. There was no information online either.
• Re-opening the road at the earliest opportunity. Whilst I fully appreciate that when there are multiple events across the district, the teams are stretched, I would like to ensure the road is back open at the earliest opportunity.
“NYC officers will work with the Tadcaster Flood Action Group and the Town council to make sure this protocol is in the best interests of the town.
“I realise this is not the news most will want to hear. But I want to reassure everyone of the following.
• The integrity of the bridge is not in question. It is safe to cross at all times, it’s stability is only in question with high river levels.
• Any closure of the bridge is likely to be a day or two, not Ideal I know but an inconvenience rather than a 14 month disruption as we have faced before.
“The businesses and residents are of course the priority so if you have at questions please do get in touch. I will be seeing officers next week to work through the protocol so your feedback is always valuable.”