The Battle of Yorks Bridge returns
The Battle of Yorks Bridge has reared its head again with a council set to go back to war with residents over building a new controversial bridge over the Essington and Wyrley Canal.
The plans to build a new bridge next to the narrow old one were thrown out by the Secretary of State in 2015 because it could encroach on common land in Pelsall, Walsall.
And some residents objected saying they would rather see works done to the old bridge than a new one built.
But now Walsall Council has put the £1.9 million scheme back on the table saying the 1800s-built bridge is not suitable for modern traffic.
Since 1999 there have been 10 reported accidents and 16 casualties with the authority stating the lack of a footway puts cyclists and pedestrians at risk.
The council’s cabinet will put the replacement project forward when they meet on Wednesday. Deputy leader Councillor Lee Jeavons said: “The existing Yorks Bridge dates back to the 19th century and its structure has suffered over recent decades.
“There have been proposals by the Highways Authority to do something about the bridge since 1976. Its brick arch construction, poor alignment and lack of footways make it unsuitable for modern traffic and given how busy that road is it’s equally unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists.”
Councillor Jeavons added: “We were disappointed with the Planning Inspectorate’s decision but we’ve taken the issues on board.
“It’s one of our priorities to transform the infrastrucutre in Walsall and this scheme is a really important part of that.”
Planning chiefs had originally hoped to save the existing historic bridge, in Norton Road, plus use additional land from the common for the new bridge and widen the road which is a commuter route from Staffordshire to Walsall.
That was given the nod by the council’s planning committee in 2014 despite objections by residents who wanted the old bridge to be renovated.
Pelsall Heritage Group and householders from the nearby Moat Farm Estate objected on the grounds that the council had failed to consider an alternative option to carry out specialist strengthening work to the original humpback bridge to allow it to keep carrying traffic.
They also objected to a ground swap plan involving parts of Pelsall North Common and a nearby pond. A petition also attracted 260 signatures.