Walsall Council has released details about the possible replacement of the historic York’s Bridge on Norton Road, as part of a modernisation scheme.
Consulting Engineers Atkins, which has been appointed to design the structure, has already started to undertake nature surveys and ground investigations are to begin shortly.
Coun Tom Ansell, Walsall Council cabinet member for transport said that although funding has not yet been secured, he hoped the plans would help to make the bridge, close to the Finger Post pub, and road safer.
“The bridge dates from the 19th century and simply wasn’t built for 21st century levels of traffic,” he said.
“The bridge currently has a weight restriction on it and a lot of work needs to be done in order to help secure the money to fund it which is the point we are at.
“A new bridge will help straighten the road with a view to making it safer.”
Over the past 12 years, ten road traffic incidents, with a total of 16 casualties, have been reported to Walsall Council.
It is thought a new bridge will be built next to the existing one because of the numbers of vehicles that use the road every day.
Cllr Ansell added: “Our engineers first looked at closing the bridge and the road entirely so they could replace it.
“That’s just not the best option as the road is used by thousands of cars a day travelling from Staffordshire to Walsall.
“The option of building a bridge next to the current one is much more preferable. Basically, it means traffic can still flow along the Norton Road while the new bridge is built.
“The cost of the scheme will be become clearer following upcoming ground investigation works.”
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Couns Marco Longhi and Garry Perry said they were keen to hear local residents’ concerns.
“This area of Common land is very important to many local people and I want to make sure everyone’s views are heard,” said Coun Longhi.
“The existing narrow bridge is grade II listed and if it could be preserved (eg. as a bridle path) many local people would be much more amenable with the proposed development, which I do believe is essential on safety grounds.
“It is also important that if any common land is taken as part of the development then it should be replaced with other land. For example, the area including Moat Farm pool, which the Friends of Pelsall Common look after, could be designated as common land in exchange.”
Coun Garry Perry added: “It’s vitally important that we get the issues surrounding this project dealt with in the most appropriate way, particularly dealing with some of the unhelpful rumours that have been circulating.
“First and foremost, the people living near York’s Bridge need to know the reasons why a new bridge is required, particularly exacerbated by the re-placement of the bridge and increase in the weight limit at Lime Lane (Cannock side).
“Secondly, there are, quite rightly, concerns from these local residents in relation to traffic volumes, size of vehicles and environmental impact. These will be listened to and addressed as part of the Consultation.
“In terms of wider involvement local input from the Friends of Pelsall Commons and Pelsall Civic Society will be a vital component in seeking the best possible outcome for Pelsall people and those affected.
“It appears clear already that there is support for the retention of York’s Bridge given its historic nature – something I am keen to pursue, even if it is retained as a footbridge alongside any new structure.
“Finally, it is not definite that funding for a bridge replacement will be granted, but given the accident rate, strengthening issues and possible weight overload something has to be done.
“There are issues to address and I will work with my colleagues in the coming weeks to ensure that the most factually correct information is conveyed and local concerns responded to.”