Published: 16:28, 12 February 2020
| Updated: 16:28, 12 February 2020
Essential maintenance to a town's swing bridge - aimed at being complete before the arrival of the prestigious Open golf championship - has been postponed.
Kent County Council was due to start repair work on Sandwich Toll Bridge on Monday, February 17, with work lasting seven weeks.
But delays in the re-opening the nearby A256 following major pipe issues has halted plans.
The work will now commence on Monday, March 30, but only if the main road is back in use.
A spokesman said: "Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond Kent County Council’s control, the emergency works by Southern Water have now been extended.
"It had always been intended that the closure of the bridge would not happen until the A256 had reopened.
"KCC is actively working with the contractors on the A256 to get their work done and the road open as soon as possible.
"KCC now intends to start work on the bridge on March 30, though this is subject to progress of the A256 works.
"Further updates will be issued as the emergency works progress."
The bridge had suffered hydraulic and control issues from December 2018 until temporary works were carried out in June 2019.
Permanent repairs were scheduled to be completed in early 2019 but this was before Southern Water suffered two bursts in "problematic areas" on the same 10k long sewerage pipe, which serves the entire population of Sandwich.
One burst is directly underneath the River Stour and the other below more than 5 metres of built-up roadway on the A256 by Discovery Park.
With the subsequent A256 southbound carriageway closure already causing delays for commuters, it had been feared that closure of the toll bridge at the same time would exacerbate traffic chaos.
But KCC has confirmed it would not allow both routes to be shut at the same time.
Jon Yates, project manager, said: "Southern Water has completed repair works to the burst pipes under the A256 and we are now working with KCC Highways to reopen the road as soon as possible."
The final survey looking at the integrity of the road was due to be completed by Southern Water last week but the results are not yet known.
"We are now working with KCC Highways to reopen the road as soon as possible"
The toll bridge repairs are part of a general scheme to smarten up the town - along with Sandwich in Bloom efforts - ahead of The 149th Open being staged at Royal St George's Golf Club from Sunday, July 12 to Sunday, July 19.
The works include removing and transporting the bridge deck to a yard for the mechanical and electrical components to be replaced. It will also be cleaned and repainted.
There will also be upgrades to the operation on site and repairs to the road.
More by this authorEleanor Perkins