EASTHAM Bridge remains on schedule to open at the end of April.

Concerns that the return to the site of a crane was the result of a problem have been put to rest.

“Eastham Bridge should be open to traffic around the end of this month,” Ken Pollock who represents Tenbury on Worcestershire County Council told a meeting of Tenbury Town Council.

“The construction has continued satisfactorily and rapidly.

“Someone remarked to me that the return of another crane must have been because of the need to rectify a mistake.

“This was not the case. The yellow crane was used to install the precast concrete sections that make up the road structure, on top of the steel beams that span the river.

“It will be a considerable relief to the town not to have the diverted traffic using Teme Street, once the bridge is re-opened.”

The reopening will also be a relief to people living in Eastham and the surrounding villages and hamlets.

It will also mark the end of a story that began in May 2016 when the original bridge that dated back to the 1790s collapsed.

The bridge fell down at the time when mini-buses were taking children back to Eastham from Lindridge Primary School but fortunately there was no one on the bridge at the time when it collapsed and there were no injuries.

It had been suggested that the bridge may have failed because it was being used at the time of the collapse by heavy lorries carrying stone.

But an investigation revealed that the foundations had been weakened by the flow of the River Teme. The bridge had been examined in December 2015 and Worcestershire County Council has maintained that it had been inspected according to requirements.

Following the collapse, a number of options had been considered including calling in the Army to provide a temporary Bailey Bridge similar to one that had been deployed on a trial basis during the Second World War.

Initially it has been anticipated that a replacement could be in place by the autumn but hopes were dashed at the end of the summer.

Because the river in the area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it was revealed that a full environmental study would be needed before a new and larger bridge could be designed and built.

As a compromise, it was agreed that a replacement bridge with the same specifications as the one that collapsed could be built without the need for a full environmental survey.

However, this has meant villagers in Eastham, including children attending Lindridge School, have had to put up with lengthy and extensive diversions throughout the winter.

Finally, work on the new bridge began in the autumn of 2016 and the spans were put in place at the end of the winter.

An exact date for the reopening of the bridge has still to be announced.