York's Bridge still closed after crash as decision almost due on £3 million replacement
A bridge in Pelsall remains closed five days after it was damaged during a car crash.
York's Bridge next to the Fingerpost pub was shut after a two-car crash left a large hole in one side of it on Thursday evening .
As a result, drivers are currently unable to travel along the B4154 Norton Road/Lime Lane between Lichfield Road and Gorsey Lane and the A5.
However temporary traffic lights are being installed with the aim of opening the bridge to single-file traffic by the end of Thursday. Meanwhile the pub is open as normal.
The narrow brick-arch bridge over the Essington and Wyrley Canal was built in the mid-1800s and, according to Walsall Council, is no longer fit for modern traffic due to the weakness of the structure.
As a result the council has long wanted to build a replacement bridge but has faced years of difficulties and opposition from local residents.
Updated plans for a new £3 million structure directly next to the existing bridge were officially submitted in August and are due to be considered by the council's planning committee in February.
The bridge is owned by the Canal and River Trust but their only obligation is to maintain a bridge over the canal. It is the council which is obliged to maintain the safe operation of public roads.
A spokeswoman for the Canal and River Trust said: “Bridges such as this are such an important part of the canal’s character and the area’s history. Each time a bridge is hit a small bit of history is lost and it is heart-breaking for us to spend so much time and money caring for these amazing structures just to see them so carelessly damaged.
"It’s also massively frustrating for local people who want to use the road.
“Over the last year we’ve had to spend over £1million across the country repairing bridges hit by drivers and that’s money which could be better used maintaining and looking after the region’s canals.
“If motorists just slowed down a bit and took more care and attention then they would save themselves and us a lot of cost and aggravation, and protect the nation’s important canal heritage.”
A spokeswoman for the council said the crash would have no impact on the building of the new bridge, should it be approved..
York's Bridge currently has a weight limit of 7.5 tons - far less than the 44 required for HGVs - and locals have complained that a new bridge would lead to an increase in traffic in Pelsall.
However Sheila Lewis, chairwoman of Friends of Pelsall Commons, is among those who have supported the new scheme, saying it is "for the greater good of the area".
Under the plans the existing bridge would remain and the road over it would be used as access for the Fingerpost pub.
The council intends to turn an area of land at High Bridges, adjacent to the A461 Lichfield Road, into common land to replace existing common land next to the road and at Pelsall North Common which will be affected by the scheme.
An earlier proposal for a new bridge was thrown out by the Government in 2015 due to fears over it encroaching on such common land.
A planning application for the revised plans had been due to be submitted in May but the council pushed the date back due to it receiving more than 1,000 responses to its consultation.
If approved, construction of a new bridge is expected to take up to 18 months.
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