A RIVER Wye footbridge that connects Herefordshire to Gloucestershire is set to be reopened later this month.

The former railway bridge, which connects Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean to Welsh Bicknor, was closed in 2016 over safety concerns after falling into disrepair.

Lydbrook Bridge, known locally as Stowfield Viaduct or the Black Bridge, was built in 1875 but after the rail line closed in 1964 it was refurbished to form a walkway.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant application to secure funds to repair the bridge and secure its long-term future was unsuccessful in July.

But during work to make the bridge safe for river traffic and walkers underneath it, good access to the structure allowed engineers to take stock of the structure’s condition.

As a result, they have devised a safe, workable, short-term fix to reopen the bridge and add a temporary walkway to it supported by the remaining columns and beams. It is anticipated to be open to the public on September 24.

Herefordshire Council transport cabinet member Barry Durkin said: “Obviously the news regarding the Heritage Lottery Fund bid is disappointing, but because of our proactive partnership work I’m sure people from both sides of the river will be delighted to know that the bridge will soon be accessible on foot once again.

“We would like to thank residents and visitors to Lydbrook for their continuing patience whilst the repair works take place.”

Herefordshire Council says it is working with its Gloucestershire colleagues to ensure the long term sustainability of Lydbrook Bridge.

The best long term solution they find will depend on the level of funding that can be secured and when it becomes available.

Gloucestershire county councillor Terry Hale said: “I know how much the community and our visitors value this key crossing point over the river that forms part of the popular Wye Valley Walk.

“As a result, I’ve done all I can to support the work to get the bridge re-opened and I hope that like me, people will be delighted that this will now happen and much sooner than we’d originally thought. I will continue to support everyone’s efforts to find a long term solution.”