Tadcaster was reconnected today as the town came together to celebrate the opening of a temporary footbridge across the River Wharfe. The main Tadcaster bridge was closed after its partial collapse due to the force of flood water after heavy rains over the Christmas period.
Repairs to the bridge are expected to take 12 months, but North Yorkshire County Council, Selby District Council, Tadcaster Town Council and Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, immediately began to look at options for putting a temporary footbridge across the river to reunite the two sides of the town. A solution was found with the kind support of the town’s football club, Tadcaster Albion, which provided access to the proposed footbridge via its car park.
The County Council’s contractors worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day to complete the bridge as quickly as possible. The metal structure was assembled in sections on site and then pushed across the river.
The bridge was opened officially today by Nigel Adams MP from the west side and Cllr David Jeffels, chair of North Yorkshire County Council, from the east. They were the first on to the bridge, accompanied by mother and daughter Babs and Chrissie Wilson, who were separated when the bridge collapsed. Chrissie, a student nurse, lives on the east side, and Babs lives on the west. Chrissie’s home was flooded on Boxing Day and it was while she was walking to her mother’s house to stay over that the bridge collapsed. They are both impressed with the effort to reconnect the town as quickly as possible and were delighted to be the first across the footbridge
Chrissie said: “We’re so proud to do this. Mum was born and grew up in Tadcaster and her family goes back 300 years in the town. We’re just so impressed with the way the town has pulled together through all this and delighted to have a bridge that connects the centre of the town again.”
The footbridge spans the river from the Selby District Council car park on the eastern side to Tadcaster Town Council land on the western side. The access path on the west side leads through Tadcaster Albion’s car park with kind permission of the football club.
Nigel Adams MP said: “Today’s opening of the footbridge is great news for the residents and businesses of Tadcaster who have had to endure so much inconvenience over the last few weeks. It was a privilege to help officiate at the opening and the way that the town has shown resilience and community spirit since the floods has been incredible.”
After the council was unable to install a temporary bridge at their favoured location, the search continued and, with the support of Selby District Council, Tadcaster Town Council and Tadcaster Albion Football Club, an alternative site was found for the footbridge, downstream of the main bridge
Matt Gore, chairman of Tadcaster Albion Football Club, said: “We’re delighted to have played a part in securing the location for the new footbridge. As a community football club, we will continue to offer up the car park to local businesses who can benefit from its use in any way – from local GPs leaving cars there to access the west side of the town to Sainsbury’s using it as a temporary trolley park. “Following the recent death of Tadcaster Albion’s own Sonny Lang, we will be referring to the bridge as Sonny’s Bridge and urge members of the community to join us by marking her memory in this way.”
Neil Beck, Balfour Beatty Operations Director, said: “We are delighted to be working with North Yorkshire County Council on the Tadcaster Bridge, which will reunite the East and West side of the town, re-establishing vital links for residents and local businesses.”
“Given the importance of the river crossing to the local community we have utilised our expertise to construct and install a temporary footbridge spanning over the River Wharfe in less than six weeks.
“Working closely with North Yorkshire County Council we have commenced work on the existing road bridge which is a key transport route through the town and vital to the local economy. Support from the local residents has been overwhelming and we are working as quickly as we can to repair the damage caused by the floods at the end of December.”