URGENT repair works to replace ‘deteriorating’ parts of the Winnington Swing Bridge will ‘ensure it can continue to operate’.

The work, set to begin in mid-March, will see a beam on the Barnton side of the grade II-listed, 110-year-old bridge removed and repaired.

It is in response to surveys which show the Canal and River Trust-owned bridge as being a ‘borderline immediate risk structure’ under highways standards.

The bridge will close to vehicles and pedestrians from 10pm on Friday, April 3 to 4am on Monday, April 6.

A similar closure will follow approximately four weeks later for the same duration – with this date to be confirmed.

Further to the works, a weight limit has been requested.

A planning statement said: “An engineering inspection was carried out on the structure in 2012. Following this inspection, the bridge’s condition was changed from condition grade C (fair) to grade D (poor). Since that time it has continued to deteriorate.

“A further inspection was carried out in 2018. The carrying capacity of the nose end of the bridge (Barnton side) was found to be 7.5 tonnes and the bridge rated as a borderline immediate risk structure under highways standards.

Northwich Guardian:

“Due to the deteriorating condition of the bridge and its reduced carrying capacity, urgent repair works are now required to safeguard the structure and to ensure that it can continue to operate.

“The works involve repairs to the nose end beam, tail surfacing plate and kentledge box, all located below deck level. These elements date from the 1970s and ‘80s alterations and do not form part of the original fabric. The replacement sections will safeguard the structure from further deterioration at this location.”

The plans added that, while traffic closures would be necessary for engineers to work on pontoons and boats, they would be kept ‘to short durations’ due to the lengthy diversion routes necessary.

It said: “The bridge provides a vital link for Northwich town centre from the satellite areas of Barnton and Marbury. The work will safeguard the structure from more significant deterioration and longer-term closure of the structure to traffic.”

With new homes being built in Winnington Village and a further 1,200 mooted on former Winnington Works land, the River Weaver Navigation Society is renewing calls for a two-lane bridge.

Society president John Tackley said: “Whilst the listed works are essential to maintain this bridge in usable condition, the aggravation that will ensue whilst they are carried out will do nothing to solve the much greater problems that will face all users when the imminent Wallerscote Island development of over 160 homes commences.

“The only traffic exit from the Island will be between the two existing swing and stone bridges, which will mean introducing an additional sequence into the traffic light system creating even longer delays.

“Whilst Canal and River Trust struggle to maintain a structure over 100 years old and designed originally for horse and cart traffic, CWAC continue to overburden the structure by creating more and more local traffic without acknowledging the chaos that is continually increasing.

“We now need a proper solution, as soon as possible. A new swing bridge, capable of accepting current traffic loadings, a few metres downstream from the existing structure.

“Local pressure from Barnton Parish Council, RWNS and others have been calling for a solution for years.

"Maybe CWAC Highways will eventually bestir themselves to solve a problem that has been very apparent for many years and has been exacerbated by the extensive local estate developments.”

A CWAC spokesman said: "The works are required to strengthen the Swing Bridge.

"The bridge will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians from 10pm on Friday, April 3 to 4am on Monday, April 6.

"It will also, be closed approximately four weeks later, for the same duration but this date has not been finalised yet.

"During the road closure Cadent Gas are taking the opportunity to carry out main replacement works immediately to the south of the Swing Bridge."