THE successful installation of new bridge decking for the Storesbrook Bridge on the Bromyard Road has been hailed by Herefordshire Council as “a milestone” for the project, which remains very much on schedule.

Work started on the bridge repairs in January and the 14-week long time-scale for the restoration should be completed as planned by early April, when the Bromyard Road, one of the main routes north to Worcester for Ledbury people, will be opened again to traffic.

A Herefordshire Council spokesperson, giving an update said: “The installation of this new bridge deck is a visual milestone in this programme. In partnership with Balfour Beatty Living Places, we examine an average of 37 bridges each month, and our programme of safety inspections identified that the old deck had reached the end of its working life and had to be replaced.

“The new bridge deck, which is made up of four sections, was constructed off site, in parallel with work on site, to minimise closure and inconvenience to public.”

The decking was slotted into place earlier this month, with the help of a 150 tonne crane. but that was just the start of a new phase for the bridge restoration.

The spokesman said: “The next steps include waterproofing of the bridge deck, further concreting and repointing work, the installation of safety barriers for vehicles and the removal of scaffolding.

“The programme is on track to allow reopening of this important road in early April.”

The late Victorian decking was made of steel but over the years salts and the weather had taken its toll, making the metal as thin as paper in some areas, with large very visible holes.

The bridge over the River Leadon is not only important for traffic, it carries one of the main internet broadband cables for the Ledbury area.

Bridge failure could have led to a localised internet outage lasting for up to one year.

The necessary closure of the Bromyard Road has led to extensive diversions for motorists, and complaints from residents of nearby villages, including Wellington Heath, that verges of country lanes were being badly damaged, due to an increase in traffic.