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Dave Stubbs of PKC Greenspace will be at the Community Council meeting tomorrow night (6th October).  Please find an email I received from him.  If you have any questions for him come along to the meeting.  We may decide that a public meeting would be the best way forward but we need to know your feelings, so please come along.

PKC undertook a temporary repair to the Shaky Bridge earlier on this year using adjustable steel props bearing onto sound parts of the sycamore tree that forms the north abutment of the bridge, removing the remains of the old timber A frames which are not required. In addition we undertook some modest crown reduction to alleviate the stress on the decaying tree trunks.

Whilst the above works will ensure the bridge remains stable in the short term, it does not remove the risk of damage to the bridge if the tree fails.

For a longer term solution, decisions will need to be taken about removal or significant reduction of the sycamore tree to eliminate the risk of it failing and taking the bridge down with it. The engineer outlines a course of action to allow the tree to be removed and new a new supporting structure put in its place on the north bank. This would allow the existing bridge to be retained for the remainder of its serviceable life. We are aware that removal of the tree will not be popular but feel that needs to be balanced against potential loss of the bridge. As we said back in May 2016 we would welcome further discussion with the Community Council and other stakeholders about this.

It is highly likely that longer term proposals will need to be a partnership project to ensure it happens, involving the community, landowners and Council. Before we invest capital into a new bridge or spend more money on the existing one we will need a formal written agreement with the landowner. A long term solution will require external funding and we’ll need community input to secure this. We’d also appreciate Community Council assistance in consulting and keeping the community up to date with progress in due course.

Options:

1. The current repair has an estimated lifespan of 1 year after which, as a minimum, the steel props will need to be replaced Annually (and adjusted routinely).

2. The existing bridge was designed and built in the late 1970s to current standards at that time. It is accepted practice that such structures can be repaired to that same standard, and as such, one option would be to take down the tree and erect a new abutment similar to the one on the south bank in its place. Realistically this is going to take 1-2 years at an estimate cost of £20,000.

3. It does not appear practicable to erect new supports with the tree in place and in any case if/when the tree falls it is highly likely to take the bridge with it.

4. The bridge/tree could be left in place and a new bridge erected at an alternative crossing point. This was considered in the 1970s and the ranger looked at this again more recently. It would appear to us that alternative crossing points would require a longer, higher more expensive structure. This would need more a detailed design at an indicative cost of at least £75-100,000. We would welcome suggestions as to alternative bridging points.

5. The Bridge could be replaced at the current crossing point proactively or when the tree or bridge fails, subject to available resources at that time. As per option 4 this would need more a detailed design at an indicative cost of around £60,000 – 75k + engineering fees. As above it does not appear practicable to do this with the tree in place.

6. Other ideas?

I would invite the Community Council to consult locally and consider which option people prefer. As above we see this as a partnership project. If we can agree a way forward would the Community Council or other local organisations assist with fund raising. Is there other support that the community can bring to bear? Are there other partners which we should invite?

Dave Stubbs
PKC Greenspace Coordinator
(Communities)

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