THE closure of a bridge has caused concern for residents who use it to access nearby towns, according to councillors.

Rigmaden Bridge, which was closed last year after it was deemed ‘unsafe’, could remain closed for two years and cost £2million to repair.

The bridge carries the C5080 road over the River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale.

In December 2021 an inspection revealed significant defects in the structure making it unsafe for vehicles and pedestrians, according to Cumbria County Council.

A number of elements of the crossing were showing signs of ‘structural distress’ due to ‘fatigue and corrosion’, while its unusual form and design added further risk.

A consultant recently assessed the bridge for the possibility of re-establishing the river crossing.

Cumbria County Council said taking into consideration the buildability, heritage conservation and cost, it was concluded that a twin-girder structure needs to be added between the existing lattice girders.

To finance the scheme the county council will consider alternative funding options possibly from external organisations or by central government grants.

Due to the scale and nature of the design, investigation, and planning work required prior to any construction, the council expects it will take a minimum of two years to complete the project once funding is found.

Founder and chair of Kirkby Lonsdale Community Interest Company Allan Muirhead said he hoped the bridge could be repaired ‘well within’ the time scale given by the county council.

"As a CIC anything which affects ease of travel in our area is to be regretted,” he said.

“This is about keeping our roads safe. We do note that the county council considered a number of options before deciding on the solution they are pursuing.

“We just hope the work can be done well within the time scale indicated."

Cumbria County Council councillor for Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale Nick Cotton said the closure would affect the farmers who farm land either side of the bridge and residents in houses just to the west of the bridge.

And chairman of Kirkby Lonsdale Parish Council councillor Michael Burchnall said the closure would mostly affect residents in Mansergh Parish who use the bridge to access Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale.

Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Our priority is always the safety of the public, contractors and our staff as we work to maintain and ensure the standards of our roads and bridges.

“Unfortunately, due to the significant structural defects of the bridge, the bridge will remain closed until we can obtain funding to implement the improvements, and we will now consider ways to improve traffic management during this extended closure.

“Our sincere thanks go out to the local community for their patience and understanding during this prolonged closure.”