REPAIR work on the Bideford Longbridge that should last it for another 60 years will get underway on Monday, September 22. Devon County Council has awarded the contract for concrete repairs and cathodic protection to the Grade One listed structure, to Con

REPAIR work on the Bideford Longbridge that should last it for another 60 years will get underway on Monday, September 22.Devon County Council has awarded the contract for concrete repairs and cathodic protection to the Grade One listed structure, to Concrete Repairs Ltd of Bristol.The £2.1 million scheme is expected to take 10 months to complete and involves carrying out extensive repairs to the concrete beams supporting the footways on each side, together with the installation of cathodic protection which will considerably extend the life of the repairs. This technique applies a small electrical current into the concrete to stop the corrosion of the steel reinforcement.Discussions with English Heritage are underway on the submission of a listed building consent application to renew the under bridge flood lighting and also to replace the existing lamp columns mounted on the bridge, with columns designed to be more in keeping with the listed status of the bridge. Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "It's heartening to see the start of this work. I applaud the effort that has gone into this scheme before it has even started. A lot of investigation, planning and consultation have gone into ensuring the best way forward for this project. "This ancient and historic bridge is at the heart of Bideford's cultural heritage and these repairs are vital in preserving, and to maintain the direct link between East-the-Water and the town centre."Later in the contract there will be a need to carry out several periods of night working to complete resurfacing works on the bridge itself. These will be planned in advance and well publicised.Councillor Hugo Barton, county councillor for Bideford East, added: "I'm pleased that the repairs will be getting underway. The Bideford Longbridge is of historic importance so it must be preserved for the town and its future generations, and this scheme offers the most cost-effective solution to achieve that for the long term."To keep traffic disruption to a minimum, repairs will be undertaken primarily from access scaffolding erected next to the bridge in the River Torridge. Restrictions to traffic on the bridge will not be permitted between the peak times of 7- 9.30am and 4-6.30pm. Outside of these hours the contractors will need to operate traffic management for short periods to enable light equipment and materials to be offloaded and moved. "I'm sure the whole town will be pleased to know that these repairs are due to start," said county Councillor Humphrey Temperley for Bideford South and Hartland."Every effort is being made to minimise the impact on traffic flow and the local economy while the work is carried out and it will be a great relief when it's complete."Disruption to the existing footways is unavoidable - the council has said - and sections will need to be closed off during some of the work. However, a safe route for pedestrians will be provided at all times and measures to provide safe crossing points will be developed as the scheme progresses.Bideford Longbridge was originally a timber bridge first constructed in the 13th century and was replaced by a masonry arch bridge in 1474. The bridge has been widened a number of times since then but the last widening was carried out in the 1920s. It was at this time the existing reinforced concrete sections that carry the footpaths were added. Some further modifications were carried out in the 1970s after the partial collapse of the west end of the bridge. It is the reinforced concrete sections of the bridge that have badly deteriorated and are now in need of repair.The three tonne weight restriction on the bridge will remain in place, as it has since 2002.