A LANDSLIDE has left a bridge connecting a tiny village to a major commuter route impassable ... adding 10 miles to residents’ journeys.
The collapse of the bridge in Ovington, Teesdale, County Durham, has split the village in two, meaning those living on the stranded side cannot access the main road out easily.
Residents have been facing an extra half an hour’s driving time on each round-trip, making it more difficult for them to reach nearby Darlington.
The bridge’s closure restricts access to the A67 which links County Durham to North Yorkshire. Heavy rain towards the end of December caused the bridge to sink down an embankment and it has been shut ever since.
The village is still accessible from the south via Hutton Magna but traffic from Winston is being diverted via Caldwell.
Residents said the bridge, which has a weight limit and is listed, has been put under considerable strain as a result of heavy farm traffic driving over it.
Hazel Watt, a chartered accountant who has lived in the village for 32 years, said: “I have been affected most drastically ... I cannot get to the pub!
“I am the wrong side of the bridge. I refuse to drive an extra five miles to get to the pub, why should I have to do that?
“It must be having a devastating effect on the pub’s business.
“I have just got back from Egypt, so I am not sure how this will affect my own business as a chartered accountant yet, but I am concerned.
“The bridge closure is affecting all the businesses in the village. I think the collapse may be a result of heavy farm traffic driving over the bridge.
“It is going to cost the council a lot of money to repair it, but I think it should be a priority.”
A member of staff at the Four Alls pub in Ovington confirmed that business had been affected by the collapse.
Dave Nixon, 53, has lived in Ovington for 13 years and runs a haulage firm in the village, transporting sand and gravel.
He said: “The bridge collapse is costing me in fuel and time and it is very inconvenient.
“We have to go the long way round every time we need to cross the village.
“To a certain extent, we are not happy with the council.
“They were doing repairs on the bridge earlier in the year – they must have spent a lot of money on it – but for it to collapse means it was wasted.
“However, I know that we have also had a lot of bad weather and the bridge is on a bank. Landslides can happen at any time.
“I wonder how long it will be shut for. There are no workmen there now, for example.”
Dave added that he is a member of the village council and that the hall’s car park is now inaccessible.
“A Post Office sets up in the hall twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“I am worried that no one from Royal Mail be able to come as they won’t be able to park close to the hall. It is an important source of income for us so we are worried.
“Everybody hopes the bridge will be fixed sooner rather than later, but the council have said they will have to survey it first. I think it will be a long and expensive job. Plus, we have not had any really bad weather yet ... that could make matters worse.
A spokesperson for Durham County Council said: “The road through Ovington had to be closed due to a significant landslip adjacent to the bridge.
“Detailed site investigations will continue early in the New Year to establish the nature and extent of the failure that caused the slippage.
“Only when these works are complete will it be possible to draw up an action plan to determine when repair works can be undertaken. This, inevitably, means a quick fix is unlikely.
“I appreciate that the diversion route is causing inconvenience to some residents but I would like to reassure everyone that this work will be carried out as quickly as possible and I would like to thank people affected for their continued co-operation.”