A TEMPORARY footbridge has been built across the River Wharfe at Tadcaster, more than a month after the road bridge partially collapsed in the wake of flooding.
The footbridge is set to be opened to the public at 2pm on Friday, allowing pedestrians to move easily again between the western and eastern sides of the town.
Since the road bridge collapsed, people wanting to get from one side of the town to the other have either had to go on a muddy one-mile detour via a disused railway viaduct or use a shuttle bus operating along the A64.
The footbridge was pushed into position yesterday, but further work needs to be carried out - for example in creating a deck for people to walk along - before it can be used.
The structure has been funded with £300,000 of money from the Government, with another £3 million allocated to pay for the reinstatement of the road bridge, which is scheduled to be completed within 12 months.
Meanwhile, resurfacing work on the A64 near Tadcaster - which was postponed after the collapse of the road bridge, amid concerns about the difficulties for people getting from one side of the town to the other - is now scheduled to start next Monday, following completion of the footbridge.
While pedestrians will be able to cross between east and west Tadcaster, motorists will still face lengthy diversions because of the roadworks.
Highways England said its contractors will be resurfacing the eastbound exit slip road at Headley Bar and the westbound carriageway between Tadcaster Ings and Headley Bar.
A spokeswoman said all work will be completed overnight between 8pm and 6am, with clearly signed diversions in place.
"During the work, the eastbound exit slip road will be closed, with traffic being diverted via Bilbrough Top to return to Tadcaster on the westbound carriageway," she said. "This work is expected to take around one week to complete.
"The eastbound carriageway will also be closed during this time between Bramham A1(M) junction and Tadcaster Ings (A162) for two nights which is currently planned for Friday February19 and Saturday February 20. During this time, traffic will be diverted along the A59 and A1237 to rejoin the A64.
"Once this work has been completed, work will start on resurfacing the westbound carriageway. This is expected to take around two weeks and traffic will be diverted off the A64 at Askham Bar on to the A1237 and A59. People wanting to access Tadcaster on the west side will be able to travel along the A64 to the A162 and people on the east will be able to leave on the A659.
Project manager Adeeb Saeed said Highways England had been working closely with North Yorkshire County Council and had agreed to begin the resurfacing work, which was essential maintenance.
"We have carefully looked at the diversion routes to ensure the people to Tadcaster can still get from one side to the other. We will carry this work out overnight when traffic levels are at their lowest to keep disruption to a minimum.”