A DATE for the re-opening of Eastham Bridge has finally been confirmed.
The bridge, near Tenbury Wells, collapsed into the river Teme last May – right in front of a bus with 11 children from Lindridge School on board.
Thankfully, the brave actions of their driver meant a disaster was narrowly averted.
Since the bridge crumbled, frustrated residents have had to use a 10-mile detour to cross the river – but not for much longer, as it will re-open on Thursday, April 27.
A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council said: “Construction is still in progress and the scheme will be completely finished later this summer, however works have now reached a stage where we are able to open the bridge to traffic, under signal control.”
An investigation into why the Grade II listed bridge collapsed found fast-moving water had slowly eroded its piers, while some locals blamed lorry drivers for ignoring weight restrictions at the site.
Construction work got underway last Autumn, with its 33-metre steel spans lowered into place in February.
The reopening will come as a relief to people living in Eastham and the surrounding villages and hamlets, after a year of inconvenience and worry.
And it has been welcomed by Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire.
“I congratulate Worcestershire County Council and its contractors for working so hard to rebuild this vital bridge,” she said.
“I can’t wait to see and use it again and I look forward to celebrating with local residents.”
The bridge, first built in the 1790s, crumbled into the river on May 24 2016.
Initially, it was hoped a temporary bridge would be put in place quickly.
There was even discussion of possibly using an army-style Bailey bridge – but this was ruled out.
It was then revealed a completely new bridge would require a new environmental inspection that would result in long delays.
However, experts found that this would not be necessary if a new bridge was built on the same line and with similar specifications to the one that collapsed.
Last October, the council revealed this artists' impression of how the new bridge would look: