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Rock Park Bridge and its cycle link to reopen by Christmas

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We’ve almost completed repairs on the former railway bridge at Rock Park in Barnstaple, and it’s on track to be open by Christmas.

Our contractors are putting the finishing touches on the bridge, including the deck resurfacing.

And nothing is going to waste with 160 tonnes of stone, that was used for the works compound, now being used by North Devon Council to complete a nearby long-stay car park.

The 133-year-old bridge has been closed for safety reasons since May 2020 after a routine dive inspection discovered holes in both of the columns in the river.

Repair work started last April in what has proved to be one of the largest and most complex projects of its kind we have carried out.

The repairs have taken longer than expected to complete after divers unexpectedly found wear in the bridge’s below-riverbed foundations.

But before they could strengthen the bridge’s two ‘in-water’ iron support columns with steel and concrete ‘sleeves’, a reinforced concrete pad foundation had to be added.

The work is being carried for us by Dyer & Butler and Teignmouth Maritime Services.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management said:

“This project is the single largest structural maintenance activity we are carrying out in Devon, and it has been exceptionally challenging,

“I’m pleased to say that it will be open before Christmas and the re-use of the stone will save both councils money and reduce our carbon footprints.

“I apologise this work has taken longer than expected but unfortunately sometimes its unavoidable with underwater work.”

The local County Councillor for Barnstaple South Councillor Caroline Leaver said:

“Residents have been waiting for a long, long time for the Iron Bridge to be re-opened.  I am thrilled to hear that people will be able to use the bridge again before Christmas, as will the people of Barnstaple. 

“It is a crucial link for many residents on both sides of the river wanting to access work, school, shopping, leisure and the train to Exeter and beyond.  The bridge is part of the National Cycle Network, and will once again be available as part of North Devon’s active travel infrastructure – making it easy to walk, cycle and cut our carbon footprint.  This is great news for us all.”

The local County Councillor for Barnstaple North, Councillor Ian Roome said:

“The bridge has been closed for two-and-a-half years and it has been sorely missed.

“I recognise that this has been a challenging project and I want to thank the engineers and contractors who worked on the project.

“It’s fantastic that it will be use once again and the extra protection to both the in-water columns will ensure their resilience for many years to come.”