DRIVERS will have to take a long detour when a village bridge is closed for essential repairs later this year.

The historic crossing in Finchingfield is to be closed for 11 days in the summer to allow the repairs to take place and for investigation work to be undertaken.

Essex Highways wants to completely rebuild the famous 200-year-old bridge but with no date yet confirmed for the work, it says improvements must be carried out to keep the existing structure safe.

A spokesman said: "Preparations are currently being made to enable us to carry out essential repairs to Finchingfield Bridge this summer.

"The works are expected to take 11 days to complete with the support of a full road closure from Monday, August 17 to Thursday, August 27.

"During this time we will carry out works to the parapets on the structure including reconstruction of the northern parapet and complete additional investigation work to assist with the design of a new structure. This is an interim measure, intended to preserve the bridge’s continued safe use.

"Discussions between Essex Highways and Finchingfield Parish Council are ongoing in relation to any future bridge replacement works.

"We are currently in discussion with the Essex County Council Passenger Transport team to understand what alternative bus services will be put into place during the road closure."

The closure of the bridge will be in place both day and night, meaning anyone wishing to cross Finchingfield brook in a vehicle is expected to be taken on a long diversion.

The route takes drivers as far out as Steeple Bumpstead and Hempstead.

Essex Highways is continuing to work on plans for a new bridge amid concerns the current structure has deteriorated and needs completely rebuilding.

Finchingfield Parish Council has called for a temporary crossing to be installed when the rebuild takes place to prevent drivers needing to take the long diversion route.

No decision has yet been made on the temporary bridge but Highways bosses insist it is being considered.

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