DRIVERS near York face a 25-mile detour for six months when one of the last private toll bridges in the country closes for “essential maintenance” for six months.

The historic bridge over the River Ure at Aldwark, near Easingwold, forms a vital link between Boroughbridge and Easingwold and is used by many families taking their children to school.

Tolls are 40p for motorbikes and cars but an attempt to increase the charge last year to 50p for bikes and 80p for cars was rejected by traffic commissioners.

Inspector rejects plan to double Aldwark Bridge toll to 80p

Now, the owners, Derbyshire-based Aldwark Toll Bridge LLP, have revealed the bridge, which is made of a mix of wood, metal and brick, will be closed from Monday April 17 to the end of October.

The company has posted on the bridge website: “The bridge was purchased in August 2020 and we have been assessing what improvements need to be made to maintain and improve the service offered.

“The bridge has suffered from a lack of investment, and a professional survey carried out by a firm of specialist bridge surveyors has highlighted the works that need to be done. The works include repairing the archways, painting the bridge and repairing or even replacing the entirety of the deck. The works are essential to prevent further decay which would result in the bridge having to close for a lengthy period.

“It is our intention to try and improve the traffic flow and reduce congestion on the bridge approaches, which is very narrow, by introducing a form of automation. We are currently in discussions with traffic consultants to investigate whether it is feasible to introduce an intelligent traffic light system. This will prevent two cars having to squeeze past each other, making crossing the bridge safer and quicker.

Bid to double toll for using Aldwark Bridge

“The current system is for regular users to purchase discounted tickets online, and we are currently in advanced discussions and are carrying out a feasibility study to see if the tickets can be replaced by a smart card, which will further improve the service offered.

“The bridge is your community asset, and whilst we are custodians of it, we have a duty to protect and to enhance it so that it can be used not only now, but also for future generations.

"It is our intention to reach out to the community and to protect what is your asset. The cost of what we have outlined runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds and, unfortunately, this has to be met by tolls which reflect the running costs and hence, after much consideration, we have applied for the toll increases.”

Aldwark Bridge closure

In 2000, the bridge was similalrly closed for 14 weeks for repairs.