The pedestrian swing bridge over the lock gates at Sutton Harbour will reopen on Tuesday 8 July, after a seven-week closure for essential maintenance.
The footbridge was closed in May to allow for remedial works to be carried out on an essential bearing, on the advice of the Environment Agency.
Engineering investigatory works carried out by the Environment Agency, which has joint maintenance responsibility for the bridge with Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc, found that the slew bearing on which the bridge pivots was worn, and if not repaired or replaced could result in the bridge becoming jammed.
The repaired bearing will continue to be used while a new bespoke bearing is manufactured by a specialist firm in Wiltshire, which will be fitted in the off-season.
The bridge operates independently of the harbour’s lock gates so access for vessels has and will be unaffected by any closures.
Charlotte Malcolm, Commercial Marketing Manager for Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc said: “Given that we did not know the full extent of the problem until the bearing was physically removed and dismantled in the workshop, the remedial works have gone very well with downtime kept to an absolute minimum. Whilst the bridge has been out of service we have made use of the time by changing all ancillary support equipment as well as carrying out maintenance work on the underside of the swing bridge and painting of the bridge superstructure.
“We will now wait until the off-season before any more work is carried out, to cause as little inconvenience as possible to visitors and business around the Harbour. Boats moving in and out of the Harbour will be unaffected and pedestrians will be able to take an alternative route around Sutton Harbour’s Heritage trail, which will be signposted.”
While the replacement bearing will ensure the swing bridge remains operational, in the long term Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc and its stakeholders will be considering a permanent alternative which can cope better with the high levels of footfall across the bridge.
Any new bridge will take at least two years to be designed, in keeping with the future vision for Sutton Harbour, and funding circa £1.5m will need to be obtained from a variety of sources.