Crucial work has started to repair a historic bridge which has been damaged following recent flooding.
A diving report earlier this month revealed that parts of Pauperhaugh Bridge are eroding and there is potential for the structure’s pier foundations to be undermined even further.
As a result, Northumberland County Council has invoked emergency powers to carry out remedial works to safeguard the bridge.
The work started today and it is expected that it will take about three weeks to complete. Drivers are being warned that the road could be closed on a number of occasions.
A county council spokesman said: “A diving inspection was undertaken on the bridge recently and the resulting survey indicated two areas of severe scour adjacent to the river piers, the largest of which is approximately 7.5m long by 7m wide by 1.5m deep.
“Due to the severity of the situation, and the potential for further scour to undermine the bridge pier foundations, the county council has invoked emergency powers in order to allow remedial works to be undertaken to stabilise the invert and safeguard the bridge structure.
“The works will involve diverting river flow to adjacent spans using large stone-filled bags to form temporary river-training walls. This will allow the water to be excluded from the affected area. The scour hole will then be filled with a special concrete designed for use in marine environments.
“The temporary works will then be removed and re-sited in order to undertake repairs to the second affected area.
“A large crane is required to lift the stone-filled bags into the river to allow us to carry out the repairs. This will mean that it is necessary to close the road while the crane is on site.
“The first closure started this morning and will run until tomorrow evening. We will keep closures to the minimum, but expect that we will have to close the road on two or three further occasions and apologise for the inconvenience caused.
“The work on the bridge is scheduled to take around three weeks, subject to the extent of the damage found when we are able to inspect further elements of the bridge.
“The closures will only be for the periods when the crane has to be on site to move the stone-filled bags.”