HEREFORD'S Old Wye Bridge will finally reopen to cars after a year-long closure, but the council isn't ruling out closing it again.

Herefordshire Council said in the summer that it would remove the measures, including the closure of the Old Bridge, over the coming months.

It has now said the bridge will reopen on Friday and the original lining and parking bays in Broad Street and Bridge Street will also be reinstated.

The bridge was closed, except for busses, taxis, cycles and pedestrians, last year to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. On-street parking around the local streets was also changed to allow for wider pavements and outdoor restaurant seating.

Coun John Harrington, cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, said the emergency active travel measures, which also included widened footpaths and 20mph speed limits in the city and town centres, boosted cycling and walking.

He said the measures, which could not be extended past September due to temporary legislation expiring, could become permanent in the future.

“We would like to thank residents and visitors to the city for their cooperation and support while these measures were in place," he said.

“I believe this period of restrictions, which was introduced at the government’s request to allow people to safely social distance and to encourage the increase in cycling and walking, which the lockdowns brought, has allowed us to experience a different way of using our streets.

"We have seen significant increases in walking and cycling in this area and I hope businesses who were initially cautious have seen the benefits of slower and less congested streets.

"People of all ages and walks of life have commented on the enjoyment they have felt being able to walk along quieter routes or sit outside and have a drink.

“I am committed to providing the best environment for both continued use of motor vehicles in the centre of Hereford whilst encouraging better walking and cycling routes.

"We are working towards a masterplan for the city and we will be inviting all stakeholders and the public to input to the vision we hopefully all share for the future of our historic and vibrant city.

"The expiry of the government’s temporary legislation means we cannot extend the measures beyond September but we can and will consider them for permanent features in due course.”