£220k repair bill for £1.1m Bridgewater Bridge
A CASH-STRAPPED council is to spend £220,000 on an iconic bridge which has been persistently targeted by vandals.
The Bridgewater Bridge – which originally cost £1.1 million – has only been open intermittently over the last three years due to the problems.
Now Stoke-on-Trent City Council is ready to splash more cash by redesigning and repairing the bridge in order to finally bring it into regular use.
It was built in 2009 to link the northern and southern areas of the £177 million City Waterside development and named after the neighbouring Bridgewater Pottery.
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However, it has been vandalised on numerous occasions, forcing the authority to regularly close it while repair work was carried out.
Last year, fresh plans were unveiled to replace the ruined glass panels with steel parapets.
Plans were also rolled out to make the bridge more 'robust' and improve drainage in the area.
But as workmen began improvements to the site in October, more problems surfaced.
Today, local residents said they had rarely seen the Bridgewater Bridge operational.
Andrew Adams, aged 32, who has lived in nearby Eastwood Road for four years, said: "I think it is a total waste of money.
"There is already a bridge down there and if people want to go to Hanley they can just walk up Lichfield Street."
Neighbour Carl Finn, aged 44, who has lived in the area for three years, added: "I have never really known the bridge to be open.
"When it had glass in it, it would just be constantly smashed. When they replaced it, it would just get damaged again.
"It would be nice to get it going. But we still don't really know what is going on in this area at the moment with development."
The latest repair work will stop water entering the walkway and will also improve the pedestrian lighting system.
Before the findings, the council had already earmarked £165,000 to overhaul the bridge. The fresh discovery will cost the authority an additional £55,000.
A report into the project, drawn up by the local authority, states: "Failure to reopen the bridge will directly impact on pedestrian movement in the area and provide a wider ranging negative impression, which could discourage investment by partners and the private sector."
Investigative work has revealed the block-paved pedestrian walkway has failed to drain any water and so parts of the metal structure have begun to rust. The whole waterproofing system must be taken up and replaced at a cost of £25,000.
A further £11,000 will be used on new lighting, with the council ready to pay out £19,000 for new railings to replace the glass panels and 'associated design costs'.