THE two halves of Tadcaster, divided when its historic bridge collapsed in the Christmas floods, are to be reunited by a new footbridge.
Work has begun to provide pedestrian access across the River Wharfe after the 300-year-old road bridge collapsed on December 29.
The temporary bridge will be located on land owned by local councils after a row with Samuel Smith’s brewery, which refused to allow the structure to be built on its land.
Dramatic video of the bridge collapsing
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) said contractors will work 12 hours a day, seven days a week to complete the task as quickly as possible.
The metal bridge will be assembled on the banks of the river and it is hoped work to push the structure across will begin on Friday and take a further week to complete.
On Monday, machinery could be seen on both banks of the river, beginning the work on the new bridge, which will span from the Selby District Council car park to Tadcaster Town Council land, with an access path through Tadcaster Albion Football Club’s car park.
The original plan was to cross the river to land owned by Samuel Smith’s. But the famous brewery refused permission, saying it was standing up for the conservation of the town.
In the town, the devastation left by the flooding is still evident.
Sodden sandbags remain piled up outside doorways and skips filled with belongings line the streets.
Only a handful of people were shopping in the town centre, where the main street remains closed to traffic and many shops have been emptied of all fixtures and fittings following flood damage.
Demolition contractors are due to begin work salvaging road bridge stones from the river. They will also remove parts that are unsafe and will examine the damage to the base to decide how to reconstruct the bridge.
The work to rebuild the bridge is expected to take around 12 months to complete.
Don Mackenzie, NYCC’s executive member for highways, said: “The sooner we can get the town connected again, the better for everybody concerned - residents, business and visitors.
“I commend the tremendous community spirit of the town and all who have been involved in finding this alternative solution for the temporary footbridge - especially the football club.
“In the meantime, we will also get on with the painstaking work of reconstructing the main bridge.
“A listed 18th century bridge of this nature requires complex operations by our contractors and engineers.”
The Government has agreed to provide £3 million for the restoration of the main bridge and £300,000 to construct the temporary footbridge.