Contractors are entering the final stage of the reconstruction work. The final phase of reconstructing Tadcaster's fallen bridge will start this week, after the county council announced the finishing date would be delayed by nearly a month.
Contractors worked throughout the weekend to put supporting arch rings in place, which will allow stonemasons to carry out the final stage of the reconstruction.
North Yorkshire County Council announced last week that the completion date for the bridge would be delayed after high river levels had prevented the creation of a new pier base .
NYCC Leader Car Les said: "Our contractors are working flat out to get the bridge finished as soon as possible for the people of Tadcaster and for the town to get back on its feet.
"Getting the arch rings in place is a major step towards final completion and we will now push on to get the job done as fast as we can. When we have finished, Tadcaster will have a stronger, safer and wider bridge fit for purpose to support the town’s economy and its residents."
Tadcaster’s historic River Wharfe bridge partially collapsed last Christmas due to the force of flood water from heavy rains.
The County Council had consistently committed to completing the reconstruction by the end of the year, but has had to put the finish date back to January 27th.
The authority announced last week that high river levels caused by damming of the river by Network Rail five miles downstream in Ulleskelf had prevented contractors from completing the next phase of work.
NYCC claimed that while the Environment Agency had authorised the damming by Network Rail for work on a railway bridge, the council had not been notified it was taking place.
Network Rail has now agreed to hold its operations in the river so the work on Tadcaster bridge can progress.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We can confirm we are carrying out vital bridge work at Ulleskelf as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, and agreed the terms of our work with the Environment Agency prior to accessing the river.
"We have worked to the agreed plan for several weeks and on Wednesday, for the first time, we were advised that there may be an impact on the water level in Tadcaster.
"After speaking with the Environment Agency yesterday, we have agreed to remove our worksite from the river to allow water levels to drop and essential work to take place at Tadcaster this weekend before we return to Ulleskelf to finish our own bridge repairs."
The piling work and creation of a new pier base have been completed and stonemasons will now start constructing masonry piers, filling them with concrete, and putting masonry over the arch rings.
David Bowe, NYCC’s Corporate Director for Business and Environmental Services said the County Council was determined to complete the bridge as early in the New Year as possible.
He said: “Our contractors are really up for the challenge. Of course we will be contending with more adverse winter weather but we will press on to finish earlier in January if we possibly can.”
As part of the project, the bridge is also being widened and improved lighting installed, with £3 million worth of government funding and £1.4 million from the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.
The stone for the pier and the arches has already been cut and most of the material from the upstream parapet will be reused when the parapet is re-positioned for the bridge widening.