Update on the White Bridge closure
The footbridge over the River Adur just north of Bramber Bridge was closed in late August, after a safety inspection by West Sussex County Council. Known as the White Bridge, the bridge is a key connecting route for walkers, so its closure has been a big concern for everyone who uses it, as well as a setback for the White Bridge Link project, which was developing plans to upgrade the path on each side of the bridge to create a new, improved, all-weather route.
The White Bridge Link Working Party has been keeping close tabs on what’s been happening. It has been liaising with the three local Parish Councils, Horsham District Council and the County Council, to stress the importance of the bridge to the local community and the urgency of getting it back in action. Here’s an update on the story so far.
Why the Bridge was closed
The bridge is inspected periodically by WSCC. A recent inspection revealed extensive corrosion to the steel trusses that form the main framework of the bridge, and on the outriggers that support the large gas and water pipes attached on each side (See photo below). In addition, cracks were observed in the concrete foundations that the bridge sits on. The County Council took the difficult decision that it had to be closed immediately and concluded that it needs to be replaced entirely.
What happens next?
It is reassuring to hear from the County Council that they are treating the bridge replacement as high priority. However it is taking time to scope out the work needed, partly because of the complexity of the job and the need to liaise with counterparts in the gas company (the water main is no longer in use). The indications are that it will be a least a year before a new bridge is in place.
It means the White Bridge Link project is on hold for now. The Working Party is continuing with fundraising efforts and is working closely with the County and District Councils to make sure the new bridge is suitably designed for both bikes and walkers. Parish Councils are also keeping the pressure on.
We know it will be popular when the new bridge does get built. An online survey conducted over the summer showed there is strong demand from local users – walkers, cyclists, wheelchair and pushchair users. Nearly three quarters of respondents said they’d use the path more than they do now if it was improved, and a similar number said they would consider contributing to a crowdfunding campaign to cover part of the costs.
So while it’s a major inconvenience for now, there are good prospects that we will end up with a better bridge and a much improved path in the media term. We’ll keep you posted.
The White Bridge Link Working Party was established by Steyning and District Community Partnership. You can find out the latest on the project at: www.visitsteyning.org/whitebridgelink