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Matlock Bridge could be closed to improve walking and cycling conditions – and safeguard the structure

An historic bridge in a Derbyshire town centre could be closed off to traffic in a bid to improve walking and cycling conditions – and safeguard the structure.

Matlock Bridge, which crosses the River Derwent in the town centre, is currently temporarily open to two-way traffic due to flood wall improvements but is usually one-way from the Crown Square direction.

However, a petition signed by 242 people asked that the bridge revert back to its historic original two-way traffic setup, once the flood wall works finish, in an aim to improve traffic and reduce congestion issues in the town centre.

Derbyshire County Council has rejected this bid but has said that in the future it could look to ban all vehicle traffic from the bridge, opening the route up for pedestrians and cyclists and a new public open space.

In a new report, officers wrote: “Matlock Bridge is a scheduled ancient monument which was never designed to accommodate the heavy loads that modern traffic presents.

“The weight of modern HGVs (and traffic in general) and the ground borne vibrations that this creates would accelerate the deterioration of the structure.

“Closing the bridge to vehicular traffic altogether would preserve the fabric of the scheduled ancient monument and prolong its life whilst minimising on-going maintenance costs of this asset.

“It would remove the requirement for a traffic light-controlled junction on Dale Road which would improve the free-flow of traffic on this strategic route and minimise delays on the network.

“It would also convert Crown Square to a 3-arm roundabout which, again, would only improve traffic flow through the roundabout.

“Closing the bridge to vehicular traffic would also provide attractive public realm open spaces which would facilitate such things as outdoor events, markets, seating areas, etc.

“It would connect park head round the southern side of the Crown Square and provide improved connectivity to Dale Road, in terms of the high street experience for shoppers. Open space would also be created at the Dale Road end of the bridge.

“A project of this nature is something for the future that would form part of a wider town centre enhancement scheme, e.g. Levelling Up scheme. Although, the impact on bus services in the town would need careful consideration.”

Council officers detail that to introduce the current temporary two-way traffic has meant removing the pedestrian walkway on the bridge and that this would become permanent if it was made two-way in the long term.

They detail that this would complicate the route for pedestrians and cyclists travelling from Crown Square to the trainstation off Derwent Way.

Officers also stress that making the bridge two-way permanently would add extra stain to the structure itself.

Cllr Sue Burfoot, county councillor for Matlock, said: “We need to bear in mind that the bridge, a focal point in the centre of Matlock, is a historic, listed structure.

I also assume that the combination of two way traffic over the bridge and the reopening of Derwent Way would require complex traffic signals on Dale Road/Derwent Way to enable traffic access from the bridge to Dale Road/Snitterton Road and for right turning vehicles crossing the bridge from Dale Road.

“All these combinations, especially the intermittent crossing by pedestrians would lead to continued delays to through traffic and resultant queuing, especially on Dale Road.

“Consideration also needs to be given to the full implications of the complexity of both vehicular and pedestrian movements, including road safety concerns, which would result from the retention of two way traffic over the bridge.

“I believe that a return to one way traffic over the bridge would once again enhance the pedestrian experience with wider footways and views of the river on both sides, something which would not happen if the traffic was two way, with retention of the resultant barriers.

“I do not wish the centre of Matlock to be traffic dominated at the expense of the pedestrian experience especially for visitors to our town.”

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