COUNCILLORS have called for a quick solution to ensure an historic bridge on the A65 can continue to carry huge volumes of traffic.

Historic Coniston Cold bridge was reduced to single lane traffic this summer when an articulated lorry smashed into the parapet.


Traffic is now back using the narrow bridge in both directions and North Yorkshire County Council is considering how best to improve the crossing.

Two of three options - building a bypass and constructing a new bridge costing between £3m and £5m - have been thrown out and council engineers are looking at other solutions.

Councillor Andy Solloway (Ind) said it was vital that an option was found to improve the bridge because the road was one of only a few trans-Pennine routes going west to east.

Improvements had been carried out at Kex Gill so it could be done at Coniston Cold, he told North Yorkshire County Council Craven area committee.

"It is just a matter of time before it happens again. This bridge is not suitable to carry a trunk road with the volume of traffic it has.

"Yes, its part of Craven's heritage and we need to find some way to protect it but this route is important to the economy of Craven. There needs to be two proper lanes for traffic to use."

Craven Councillor Richard Walsh (Con) said: "An alternative is to widen the present structure but that will rely on the cooperation of Historic England, I gather. But it looks feasible. We need to be doing something quickly."

The listed bridge - build by 18th century Yorkshire bridge-master John Carr - was on one of the major strategic trans-Pennine routes and was therefore a crucial link in the economy of North Yorkshire, said Councillor Robert Heseltine (Ind).

"If it means spending a few millions to get a solution which serves the interest of the district then so be it. It's a priority in economic terms."

Committee chairman Councillor David Ireton (Con) said North Yorkshire County Council was responsible for the upkeep of about 700 bridges, so it depended where Coniston Cold bridge was in the pecking order.

Highways officer James Malcolm said at present Harrogate and Kexgill on the A59 were priorities and because the bridge was listed it made it very difficult to undertake improvements to the structure.

Substantial investment would be required to upgrade the bridge and only light touch work was feasible at present.