Assessment underway to investigate damage to Grade 1-listed bridge

Damage at Newbridge (Pic – Cornwall Fire Service)

Posted on: 3 April 2019

Assessment of the damage to Newbridge near Gunnislake is continuing at pace today.

Engineers say though that it will be some days yet before they know the full extent of the damage, and are unable to predict today with certainty how long repairs will take.

The collision with the Grade 1-listed bridge happened yesterday, involving a vehicle approaching from the Cornwall side.

Loose coping stones have already been removed, but today scaffold is starting to be erected that will provide engineers with the vital platform and access needed to properly assess the damage.

The 100 metre long (approx.) bridge linking Devon and Cornwall stands over a 3 metre deep stretch of the river Tamar. It means that conventional scaffold, from the ground up, would be challenging for a number of reasons including a risk that branches or other floating debris could destabilise it. So the team is building a cantilever scaffold, from above, which uses weight on one side to counterbalance the weight of engineers and equipment on the other.

A spokesman for the Council said:

“We’ve started the scaffold today, but given the design required it’ll take a few days to have that erected. Come Monday or Tuesday though we expect our engineers to have a much better, more informed view of what the extent of the damage is, and therefore of the repairs needed before the bridge can be reopened.”

He added, “We’ve got teams there working hard on site now, and we’re making progress as quickly and as safely as possible.

“This is however a Grade 1-listed structure. We have to give it a sympathetic repair, which means that we will have to use lime mortar, and that takes longer to cure to get up to strength. We do not want this bridge closed any longer than is absolutely necessary.”

In the meantime, Devon County and Cornwall Councils’ highways teams are working together to sign and divert traffic around the bridge.

We will be keeping the public informed of progress on Twitter, @DevonAlert

8 comments on “Assessment underway to investigate damage to Grade 1-listed bridge

  1. Jack Kernow says:

    Is there any truth to the rumour this was caused by two cars racing and one went into the back of the other?

  2. Mable says:

    Hi, is it possible to know how we can claim against the insurers of the vehicle involved, not only personally for the extra fuel and wear and tear on my car and time, but as my taxes are no doubt being used for another costly repair to the bridge, can the Coucil not also take steps to reclaim the cost?

  3. Margaret says:

    How on earth did this happen I travel over that bridge often and know that you need to slow right down on both directions in case you have to stop for traffic on the bridge coming in the opposite direction . With the one way only stretch on the Gunnislake side for the subsidence which has been ongoing for far too long as well . This bridge like the other country lanes round here is not fit for purpose . The amount of vans and heavy lorries passing over it every day is huge not to mention all the buses .There are local buses school buses and tourist coaches . I know it is an area of outstanding natural beauty and don’t want anything to distract from that but why can’t the army put up a temporary bridge somewhere Maybe down at calstock where there Are approach roads on either side already If this happened elsewhere people would be working night and day to solve the problem but this is Cornwall so nothing is done It will be the Easter holiday school bringing lots of caravans etc . Let’s hope they don’t use Horsbridge !!! But a thirty mile detour is also unacceptable in terms of time ,cost and pollution PLEASE DCC take this seriously .

    • Hi Margaret. Yes, it’s a busy road that takes a lot of traffic. The safety of all those people who use the bridge is our priority, which is why every effort is being put into assessing the damage, so that we can get the bridge repaired as quickly as possible. We responded immediately, and had a team onsite within 2 hours of the accident..and they’ve been working long days since and will be working right through the weekend. You mention buses and heavy lorries, but you’ve noted that this accident involved a car, not a large vehicle? About the diversion – we have to sign diversion routes of equal road classification, it’s the rule, which is why the route described is the length it is. But people will know alternative shorter routes, which they’ll take. We won’t know yet what repairs are needed until our engineers have had chance to really investigate, but please be assured that we are taking this very seriously, and we’re getting on with it as quickly and as safely as possible. Thanks.

  4. Jon Bennett says:

    The last time there was substantial damage to the bridge caused by a vehicle, buses were laid on either side of the bridge to assist those travelling to Tavistock. Could the council not talk to local bus company to see if this could be done again.

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