Unsettled residents and visitors have been reassured that Tadcaster is not ‘forgotten’ after an apparent lull in the bridge construction sparked concern.
Onlookers expressed doubt that the work would be complete within the time promised after it was noticed the construction site had been vacant for some time.
But North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has claimed that much of the recent tasks have been background work to prepare the bridge for re-construction.
NYCC Executive Member for highways said: “There is a lot of preparatory work which has been taking place and as you know we have had to secure the supports of the bridge which were scarred away.
“Admittedly that took some time to get done because we had to wait for water levels to fall. But a lot of preparatory work has now taken place we are also having to look at matching stone dressing for the bridge.
“All I would say to reassure residents is that to the best of my knowledge we are still looking at a total time of 9-12 months to get the bridge back to what is was.
“That is from the day of the incident so we are looking at the back end of this year.” However, for Ron Miller, a regular visitor to Tadcaster, the state of the bridge when he visited the town earlier this week was still a concern.
He said: “There was absolutely no work at all being done on the bridge, the site office was completely closed off, no-one appeared to be there and there was no security people either.
“People are now saying it could take two years before the bridge is reopened, when you look at the bridge it doesn’t look as if they have done anything.
“It’s a concern to see so little apparent progress being made. It may be that progress is being made with the foundations but it looks as though it’s going to be a very long job.
“For people running businesses and the shops this must be a terrible time because the area and the town centre is so quiet now and you have to feel for the people who have been affected.
“It looks as though after the official visits by government ministers and so on that Tadcaster is now a town forgotten.”
But with the county council committed to re-opening the bridge by Christmas, Councillor Mackenzie claimed the new bridge could even be better than before.
He said: “We were also looking at the possibility, when we rebuild the bridge to in some way widen it to give more room for pedestrians and cyclists.
“That also brings in the issue of money and funds, but we are still looking at the possibility of spending more money and producing a better bridge than what it was before it fell.
“I’m hoping it wouldn’t take more time, the question is whether we can widen it by means of a cantilever.
“We are completely committed to completing this work within the 9-12 months we mentioned when we first started.”