12:00PM, Thursday 24 November 2016
After two months and dozens of safety tests, Marlow Bridge is finally set to reopen.
Cllr Bob Johnson, the Mayor of Marlow, and Cllr Valerie Letheren, chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council, are due to cut the ribbon on the bridge at a special ceremony tomorrow morning.
The event will also mark almost two months to the day since the historic structure was forced to shut.
On Saturday, September 24, a lorry more than 10 times the official weight limit attempted to cross, forcing the closure while engineers assessed the damage.
But Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) confirmed last week it would be reopening the bridge to traffic after being given the green light to do so by assessors.
On hearing the news, Cllr Johnson said: “We are so pleased to learn that the extensive testing work undertaken by BCC has proved that our bridge withstood the strain of the 37.5 tonne truck, and that the bridge will open again.
“Marlow traders have felt the downturn in trade since the bridge was shut so we will focus our efforts now on encouraging people to shop local and to come into the town for their Christmas shopping and for our Christmas events.”
Following the closure, Lithuanian logistics firm Girteka admitted responsibility and also made a donation towards the cost of Marlow’s annual Christmas lights display.
This also prompted businesses in the town affected by the closure to consider legal action against the company.
Robyn Sutcliffe, who runs the Perch cafe, in the High Street, and who is part of the Marlow Traders group, made up of about 50 businesses in the town, said: “I think it’s fair to say we’re all pretty relieved it will be open again this side of Christmas and we’re hoping everyone will go back to their plans for shopping in the town.
“I think there’s still a lot of uncertainty because Marlow is usually such a popular shopping town, but we hope people will start coming back quite quickly.
“By now they might have got into the habit of going to other places so we’re going to have to work pretty hard to get things back to normal.”
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A teenager who died after getting into difficulty in the Jubilee River has been described as a ‘gentle giant’ in a tribute from his school.