Oh dear. The High Level Bridge, one of the many fine bridges joining Newcastle and Gateshead, closed in February for major repairs. The road deck had to be renewed, which involves replacing the timber underneath the road surface. Quite a big job, and given that the bridge is Grade I Listed, everything has to be done very carefully, and has to be done in such a way that no changes are made to the structure.
Now, I seem to recall that there were plans quite some time ago to renovate the bridge – the iron structure is showing signs of wear in many places. But this never happened, and instead minor repairs and patching has been carried out.
So I’m not surprised that they’ve found some apparently quite significant cracks in the girders under the road level. So, instead of reopening in November, the bridge will be closed until early 2007. Or later. And apparently it will be one way traffic only when it finally returns to service.
Still, it looks like this “unexpected” finding means that the bridge will now get a proper repair job, with the intention that it shouldn’t need any more major work for about 60 years, by which time it will be over 200 years old.
 It was a significant engineering achievement at the time it was built – and quite an unusual design with the rail lines running above the road.
 The direction has not yet been decided