Otley Bridge, a historic structure that connects the two halves of Otley town over the River Wharfe, is set to undergo a thorough inspection and safety investigation. The ancient seven-span stone bridge, which is nearly 800 years old, will be closed to all vehicles over the course of two nights, starting from Tuesday, July 18, until Wednesday, July 19. The closure will be in effect from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night.

The purpose of the closure is to examine any defects present in the bridge and conduct a comprehensive safety investigation. To ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, a segregated walkway controlled by marshals will remain open throughout the closure period. However, it is important to note that vehicular access will not be permitted.

Leeds City Council, responsible for the maintenance of the bridge, has organised a fully signed diversion route for vehicles. Motorists will be directed to take the A658 Pool in Wharfedale bridge crossing during the closure. This diversion has been carefully planned to minimise disruption to traffic flow and provide a suitable alternative route.

Originally constructed centuries ago, Otley Bridge has played a vital role in connecting the communities of Otley. In the 1950s, a cantilevered pedestrian concrete walkway was added to enhance safety as traffic volume increased. However, recent reports have highlighted certain defects in the walkway, prompting the urgent need for further investigation and possible repairs.

To facilitate the inspection process, an underbridge unit will be utilised to access the underside of the walkway. As a result, a complete road closure on the bridge will be necessary. Leeds City Council is committed to working diligently to ensure the inspection is conducted promptly. They would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by this closure and assure the public that every effort will be made to minimise disruption.

For the duration of the closure, a designated diversion route will be in operation. Motorists travelling from the north will be redirected via the B6451 Farnley Lane, Farnley Park, and the B6161 Leathley Lane to join the A658 at Pool in Wharfedale. From there, they will continue on the A659 Pool Road, ultimately reaching Otley. Those approaching from the south will follow the reverse directions outlined above.

The closure of Otley Bridge is an essential step in ensuring the continued safety and preservation of this historic structure. Leeds City Council urges residents and visitors to adhere to the diversion routes and apologises for any inconvenience caused during this necessary investigation.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said; “Otley Bridge is an ancient crossing in the centre of the town. By carrying out this urgent investigation at night-time with lower traffic levels, we can hopefully quickly identify the extent of the defects.

“We apologise in advance for the potential disruption and ask road users for their patience. The urgency requires some short-term inconvenience to ascertain potential further works on this vital crossing in the town.

“We would please like to urge motorists to plan their journey in advance, follow the signed diversion and allow a bit of extra time for their travel. We have put together a signed diversion via www.leeds.gov.uk/planahead and again, thank you for your patience.”