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Coleridge Footbridge set to remain closed this year

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Coleridge Footbridge in Ottery St Mary is unlikely to re-open this year due to the extent of the damage it has sustained from a fallen tree.

The structure has now been closed for just over a month and our inspections have revealed that the structural integrity of the main span of the bridge has been affected by the incident. The top chord of the truss has been damaged and the bridge deck has been twisted.

In order to avoid further damage or collapse the bridge needs to be completely removed and placed on the ground to enable repairs to be carried out.

A large crane would be required to lift the structure but current ground conditions are not suitable to undertake this operation.

Our engineers are working with the original bridge fabricator to explore repair options. In the interim, a specialist arborist is advising us on how best to remove the tree without causing further damage to the structure.

However, due to the size and estimated weight of the tree, the best way to support the tree during its removal is also likely to be a large crane which again would need better ground conditions.

The bridge is currently fenced off at both ends and members of the public are asked to avoid the area. Any accidental movement of the tree could lead to further damage to the bridge and ultimately failure of the structure.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said:

“Public safety is paramount and while we appreciate Coleridge Footbridge is a popular and well used link it must remain closed at the moment. Unfortunately the integrity of the bridge structure has been compromised by this fallen tree.

“The inspections have raised concerns that without the correct support any attempt to remove the tree could cause more damage, possibly leading to further twisting of the deck. We also want to avoid parts of the tree getting washed downstream and impacting the river elsewhere. Our teams are working hard to find possible solutions but it may well take some time, so please bear with us.”

Councillor Jess Bailey, County Councillor for Otter Valley, said:

“I’m exceptionally concerned that this vital footbridge will be out of action for so long and the impact this is going to have on all residents, including students at the King’s school. I am urging DCC to do everything within its powers to reinstate the bridge as soon as possible and I will be monitoring progress closely.”