Works to repair Torridge Bridge in Bideford will take longer than expected, Devon County Council has said.

While work continues to replace a damaged expansion joint on the bridge, Devon County Council has now found that cover plates, allowing access to the abutment chamber, need replacing as well.

The authority has also commissioned work to examine and test the tensioned steel cables inside the concrete deck of the structure, in order to minimise disruption.

This survey work will be carried out from Thursday, February 22, until Thursday, March 8; and then from Monday, March 19, to Thursday, March 29.

The bridge deck will need to be excavated, and a specialist truck-mounted access platform will have to be parked on the bridge to enable engineers to access the underside of the bridge deck.

The extra work means that the repair scheme is not due to finish until Tuesday, April 12.

The inspection and testing will be restricted to 10pm-6am and temporary lights will be manually controlled during these hours to reduce waiting times.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “It makes sense for these additional repairs and investigative work to be carried out while temporary lights are already in place on the bridge.

“The inspection of the condition of the steel cables is vital as it will ensure the bridge is capable of continuing to carry heavy traffic in future years.”

There will be two overnight closures between 7pm-6am, on February 20 and March 7.

A signed diversion will be in place via the Bideford Long Bridge, with a separate diversion in place for HGVs down to Torrington.

Councillor Linda Hellyer, County Councillor for Bideford East, said: “Safety is of paramount importance so I’m sure everyone will appreciate that Torridge Bridge is having a thorough overhaul.

“It is excellent news that this essential maintenance work is going to be carried out at night, in line with the current works on the bridge.

“This, and the fact that the traffic lights will be manually operated, will minimise disruption to the travelling public.”

Outside of the two closures, temporary traffic lights will remain in use from 7pm to 7am.

Both lanes of the bridge will be open during the daytime and a precautionary 20mph speed restriction will remain in place at all times.

The bridge will remain open during the Easter break under the 20mph speed restriction, with no work on top of the bridge planned at night during the holidays.