County council chiefs have expressed their 'frustration' as the authority announced that the completion date for repairs to Tadcaster bridge has been delayed.
Following a review of the works by all parties involved in the repair project, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has announced that the finishing date has been delayed by some 20 days.
The bridge has been closed for almost a year after it partially collapsed under the weight of the Christmas floods last year.
NYCC had consistently committed to completing repair work and re-uniting the two halves of the town within 12 months, but now the authority estimates the project will be completed by the end of January.
County Councillor, Chris Metcalfe, member for Tadcaster, said: “We are extremely frustrated by this development.
"Our contractors have been pulling out all the stops to get this very complex, painstaking job completed within the year.
"Our main goal is to get Tadcaster back on its feet after the terrible flooding and collapse of the bridge last Christmas, but we are determined to push on and make every effort to get this job finished as soon as we possibly can.”
North Yorkshire County Council , which has been carrying out a round-the clock operation to reconstruct Tadcaster Bridge, has set out a revised timetable for the bridge completion due to persistent and unusually high river levels on the Wharfe.
The council explained that the delay to the reconstruction was due to 'puzzling and persistent' high river levels, despite lower than average rainfall for the time of year.
The authority now believes the main cause of the high river levels is damming of the river by Network Rail, five miles downstream at Ulleskelf, for work on a railway bridge.
Although the Environment Agency issued a permit for this work to be carried out, NYCC claims it was not notified about the operation.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We can confirm we are carrying out vital bridge work at Ulleskelf as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, and agreed the terms of our work with the Environment Agency prior to accessing the river.
"We have worked to the agreed plan for several weeks and on Wednesday, for the first time, we were advised that there may be an impact on the water level in Tadcaster.
"After speaking with the Environment Agency yesterday, we have agreed to remove our work site from the river to allow water levels to drop and essential work to take place at Tadcaster this weekend before we return to Ulleskelf to finish our own bridge repairs.
We will continue to work with the Environment Agency and Selby District Council on this issue.”
The high water level upstream in Tadcaster had held up piling work and the creation of a new pier base for the bridge as this had to take place below the water line.
However the council has now announced that the piling work has been completed and the arch rings to support the widening of the bridge will be fitted on Sunday November 6.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, NYCC Executive Member for Highways said: “We are working flat out to complete this bridge for the residents of Tadcaster and despite this setback the works have now reached a stage where they are less susceptible to rising river levels.
“We have had to revise our timetable for completion as a result of this latest development. Of course, we will now be contending with more adverse winter weather but we will press on to finish earlier in January if we possibly can."
Once the pier base is completed early this month, the arch rings to support construction will be put in place, allowing the stone masons to start their building work.
The stone for the pier and the arches has already been cut and most of the material from the upstream parapet will be reused when the parapet is re-positioned for the bridge widening.