As the costs of replacing a “vital” bridge in Weston-super-Mare rise, North Somerset Council is asking the Ministry of Defence, who are already footing the bill, for almost £10 million more to help with the project.

Winterstoke Road bridge crosses the railway line and connects Haywood village and the Oldmixon area with the rest of Weston-super-Mare.

A report delivered to North Somerset Council said: “Winterstoke Road and Broadway are vital routes within Weston-super-Mare with many local businesses and communities relying on the routes to access their premises and homes.”

But within five to ten years the bridge will need to be replaced, according to the report.

A 7.5 tonne weight restriction has already had to be put in place as the bridge reaches the end of its life after 80 years in service.

Sarah Codling, who represents Winterstoke on the council, said that residents in the new development were already isolated and it would be damaging if the bridge had to close in the next decade.

She said: “Those impacts would be devastating.”

North Somerset Council has contributed £450,000 towards replacing the bridge but the bulk of the money — £10.8 million — has come from the Ministry of Defence. 

The council voted at a full meeting of North Somerset Council on January 10 to accept another £9.45 million from the government department after projected costs for the project rose past £20 million.

The MoD is footing the bill for the replacement because, although it is now a suburban bridge used mainly by local families and traffic to the industrial estate, the bridge was originally a military installation.

Read more: Fewer vehicles using Weston bridge after weight limit installed

Read more: Bridge replacement costing £15million moves step closer 

Weston Airfield had been requisitioned by the Royal Air Force in 1940 as the Battle of Britain raged overhead.

Aircraft factories at the site built Bristol Beaufighters, a heavy fighter used for attacks on ground troops and shipping, which were flown from the airfield to the squadrons that used them.

In order to serve an aircraft factory at Oldmixon, the Ministry of Defence built the bridge across the trainline.

Even today the army green riveted metal sheeting along the sides of the bridge hints at its military history.

Although the war was won and the aircraft factories have long since closed down, the MoD still owns the bridge and has been paying for its upkeep for the last 80 years.

But now that the bridge needs to be replaced, the council have agreed to take on ownership of the bridge.

The report said: “The MoD has recognised the bridge has no military value and would like the council to dedicate the replacement bridge so that the bridge becomes maintainable at the public expense.”

As part of the agreement for the council to take on the bridge, the MoD is paying the main cost of the replacement and will provide a commuted sum to maintain the new bridge for 120 years.

Construction is planned to get underway between spring 2024 and summer 2025.