County takes over bridge maintenance

Horse Eye Bridge
Horse Eye Bridge

SPIDERS, Second World War bombs and working under water are just some of the challenges to be faced by county council staff restoring old highway bridges.

East Sussex County Council has adopted 35 bridges from the Environment Agency, which has transferred the funding and responsibility for repairing and maintaining them.

Although not all require restoration, many of the bridges are submerged and diving inspections have revealed them to be in a very poor condition, necessitating prompt action.

So far, two bridges in Rickney have been successfully restored back to their original condition.

Work took five weeks per bridge in late 2009 and into early 2010. Temporary watertight structures called ‘Coffer-dams’ were built around the bridges so that water could be pumped out before work started.

The work involved matching old imperial bricks, rebuilding and repointing accident damaged brickwork, and repairing damage caused by water erosion.

A spokesperson said, “We are currently working to restore the bridge in Church Acre Lane, between Hailsham and Pevensey, by strengthening the brick arch using a reinforced concrete saddle, repairing and repointing the brickwork and repairing damage caused by water erosion.

“Work is due to be competed in January 2011.

Among the future challenges are rumours of Second World War bombs beneath one of the structures and sightings of the extremely rare Fenn Raft Spider.