Aldwark Toll Bridge set to resume operations on February 13 following extensive £1m repairs
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Aldwark Toll Bridge set to resume operations on February 13 following extensive £1m repairs

The Aldwark Toll Bridge, between Little Ouseburn and Aldwark, north-west of York,  closed in April for repairs and was due to re-open in October.

But bad weather and mechanical defects have pushed back the timeframe and increased the costs from £750,000 to a million.

Dudley Valentine, the operations manager of the toll bridge company has announced on social media the bridge will re-open on Saturday February 17, despite a proposed traffic light control system not being in place.

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The toll will remain at 40p for cars and £1 for larger vehicles.

The toll bridge website, which has been talking of a late February/ early March re-opening will begin selling crossing tickets on February 5.

Alex Bell, a Derbyshire businessman who bought the bridge in 2020, says the plan is for February 17.

He told the Press: “It’s really great news for the community. I’m very pleased.”

He blamed the delays in difficult operational conditions, such as flooding and frost, plus engineering complications, which had to be overcome.

He hoped there would be an opening ceremony, but re-opening the bridge was the priority.

The repair cost was now ‘circa £1m’ and he declined to say whether he would seek an increase in the toll to pay for it all.

Alex added: “The bridge has had a complete refurbishment, with a new deck from end to end.

“Even the stanchions (supporting legs) have been checked by an underwater diver and totally repainted.”

Businesses and community leaders are celebrating the planned re-opening.

Warren Taylor, owner of the Aldwark Arms, says the closure of the toll bridge was been a ‘devastating’ for the pub, with trade down 40% since it closed.

And with the delays and constant reannouncements of new opening days, he was still doubtful this latest opening date will stick.

“When we see it, we will believe it. We hope that when the bridge re-opens, we hope that the customers will come back and they haven’t developed new habits.”

Similarly, Christophe Gitton, estate director for Aldwark Manor Estate, is ‘delighted’ at the planned re-opening, also saying his residential, leisure and corporate guests have gone elsewhere during the closure.

“We reopened our golf course on June 1st, 2023, and the bridge’s closure affected our membership numbers as well as pay and play. Our leisure and spa facilities also relied heavily on local clientele from the other side of the bridge. It’s one of those scenarios where I don’t think people realised how much they needed the bridge, until they weren’t able to use it.

“The impact on our business, other businesses and the local community has been significant, but we also appreciate how important it was for the work to be done.

“The reopening of the bridge will also be a huge relief for dozens of our team members as their commute to work will take considerably less time!”

North Yorkshire councillor for Aldwark Nigel Knapton called it great news the bridge is to re-open, which will save nearby residents a 25-mile detour.

He said: “It is annoying it has taken so long but once your start working on old structures, things appear.

“If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. It’s been an inconvenience for Aldwark, residents have had a long way to go round. It does show how much we all appreciate the bridge. Hopefully it won’t be closed for any years to come.”

John Topliss, chairman of Aldwick area parish council, said the council welcomes the re-opening.

He added: “The closure has been a big inconvenience to residents and businesses. The re-opening of the crossing over the Rive Ure will be a great relief for everyone affected.”