PEEL Holdings, that operate the Bridgewater Canal have told us that it is shortening the length of the stoppage to replace a bridge over the waterway.
It was originally stated that it would take from the 13th February to the 16th June to complete the work of replacing Vicars Hall Bridge over the waterway, but this has been cut by three weeks with the promise that the waterway will reopen instead on Wednesday 24th May.
There was an huge outcry at the length it was to take to replace the foot bridge, with the stoppage completely cutting off access to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal via the Leigh Branch, with this now being amended.
It is not only the length of time needed to replace the footbridge, which even now is taking over three months, but the fact that the navigation will be completely closed throughout the entire period.
The bridge is a single span steel structure, as can be seen, and carries a bridleway over the navigation, with the structure itself still is very good condition. It is one of the wing walls that is collapsing that is causing the repair.
However it is obvious that the wing wall needs rebuilding as the brickwork is in a poor state. However, the bridge could be lifted off the wing walls, the one—or even both of them—repaired and the bridge simply replaced.
Why this should take over three months, with the waterway completely closed just cannot be understood.
When Canal & River Trust undertake such work it always gives 'windows' for boats to pass whilst the work is being undertaken.