An “unsafe” historic Walsall bridge on a busy road – which is nearly two hundred years old – could be shut off to traffic if work isn’t done to stop it deteriorating further, council bosses have warned.
A proposal to build a new structure next to York’s Bridge in Pelsall is expected to be given the green light at a planning committee meeting on Thursday (September 17).
The existing bridge – dating back to the mid 1800s – on Norton Road goes over the Wyrley and Essington Canal and is situated by the Fingerpost pub.
But Walsall Council said it is weakening and could result in it being closed to traffic is works aren’t undertaken to save it.
And they added it was unsuitable for modern traffic, cyclists and pedestrians and the weight limit of 7.5 tonnes was way below the national requirement of 44 tones.
A new bridge is being proposed to be built alongside the current one with traffic on Norton Road being redirected on to it.
A consultation held last year garnered strong support for the scheme but also attracted objections from residents.
They fear pedestrians could be at risk from speeding, more vehicles using the route, increased number of HGVs coming into the area and the loss of open space and harm to the environment of building the new bridge.
Plans for a new bridge were first put forward in 2014 but collapsed when the planning inspectorate ruled the loss of land on Pelsall Common to make way for the development was too great and the council’s offer to compensate by creating open space elsewhere was insufficient.
For this application, far more replacement land is being offered while a habitats regulation assessment said the bridge would not have a significant impact on the area.
A report to the committee said that the bridge would alleviate current problems for all road users.
On their website, Walsall Council said: “The existing York’s Bridge dates back to the mid-1800s.
“Its brick-arch construction, poor alignments and lack of footways make it unsuitable for modern traffic and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The bridge structure has suffered over recent decades and the bridge is currently the subject of a 7.5 tonne weight limit — well below the national requirement of 44 tonnes.
“If no action is taken the bridge will continue to weaken to the point where closure to all road traffic might have to be considered.”
If planning permission is granted, the matter will go before the planning inspectorate again.