Tadcaster reconnected as bridge severely damaged by 2015 floods reopens
Tadcaster Bridge is due to reopen more than a year after its partial collapse came to symbolise the destruction of the 2015 Christmas floods.
The 18th century Grade II listed structure crumbled on December 29 2015 as the River Wharfe rose to historic levels.
Its collapse came as flooding hit large parts of northern England, leaving many communities - including homes in Tadcaster - under several feet of water.
The loss of the bridge, which had already been closed due to safety concerns, left the North Yorkshire town divided, with residents and visitors having to negotiate a 10-mile (16km) detour to get from one side of the river to the other.
The division has strained businesses in the town and North Yorkshire County Council said contractors have worked around the clock to complete a job that should have taken two years in just over 12 months.
"There is great anticipation in the town," said Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council's executive member for highways.
"Its community has been literally cut in two for a year by the bridge's collapse and people have been eagerly looking forward to the time when they will be reconnected. We thank them for the patience and fortitude they have shown throughout the year.
"I am very proud of the enormous effort made by our contractors, Balfour Beatty, and our bridges team to complete a very challenging project of this kind in little more than half the time it would normally take."
The reconstruction, which has included a widening of the structure, has been funded with £3 million from the Government and £1.4 million from the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.
Friday's reopening will be marked by a parade led by pupils from the town's three primary schools.
The reconstruction of the bridge will be further celebrated in April when Tadcaster hosts the start of Day 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire bike race.
The bridge collapsed four days after it was closed on Christmas Day 2015 due to safety concerns.
North Yorkshire County Council said more than 650 tonnes of water every second was hitting the bridge at its peak - the highest flow rate recorded in 30 years.
Government minister Greg Clarke walked across the bridge, inspecting the situation, hours before its dramatic collapse.
The council has asked motorists to note that, although the official reopening of the bridge is planned for 2pm on Friday, it will not be open for general traffic until later in the afternoon - certainly after 3pm.