MONTHS of misery are finally set to come to an end for traders in Milnsbridge following essential bridge repair and strengthening works.
The controversial work left the village looking like “a ghost town” and led to 1,000 people signing a petition demanding the work was carried out more quickly.
The works have increased the load capacity of the bridge – bringing it up to the 40 tonne national requirement so that all vehicles are able to gain easy access to the area.
But despite the good news that the road system will be back to normal on Monday, November 26, not all traders were in celebratory mood.
Joanne Thackray, who runs a cake decorating shop in nearby Scar Lane, was so incensed at the pace of work and the resulting lack of customers, she organised the petition.
Yesterday she said: “I will believe it when I see it but it’s been terrible. I’m probably 50% down on what I would be doing if not more. A lot of shops are very quiet.
“There’s more cars than there were at the beginning but they are all going home – it’s not passing trade.
“I think they could have done it a lot quicker and put more money into having staff working every weekend, especially considering what Kirklees do spend on silly stuff.”
The bridge is more than 120 years old and carries Market Street over the River Colne.
The improvements were essential in maximising the bridge’s future use and include the installation of new bridge girders, waterproofing of the bridge deck, parapet and scour protection works and painting.
The works to the top of the bridge are now complete.
Underneath, finishing touches are being put to the scheme with the placement and fixing of final supporting beams.
To allow access, the temporary one-way and traffic management system needs to remain in place until these are complete.
However, contractors will be working through the weekend of November 24 and 25 to ensure work is finished on time.
A council spokesman said: “We said from the beginning that this large-scale improvement project would take approximately 14 weeks, which took us through to mid-to-late November.
“During that time there was a long spell of torrential rain which led to flood waters in the river and damage to the scaffolding under the bridge.
“That was a major setback to the programme, but we took steps to ensure the contractor employed longer working hours and extra resources to minimise the delay.
“Scour protection works will continue underneath the bridge after November 26, but these can be finished without the need for a one-way system.
“We fully recognise that these works have caused disruption to residents, traders and the people who travel through Milnsbridge.
“We listened to people’s concerns and, as a direct result, took a number of steps during the works programme to further support local businesses.
“We would like to thank people for their patience.
“The community now has a strengthened, refurbished bridge which has no threat of any loading or access restrictions in the future”.