Coal Authority tests mines for Padiham bridge subsidence
The Coal Authority has been drilling into old mine workings close to the bridge to insert a sonar device to get a clearer picture of what is happening.
The charity Sustrans, which owns the popular walking and cycling route, closed the bridge on the Greenway in 2021 when inspections by engineers revealed the pier in the river was sinking into the ground. This has caused the arches to fail, which means that the bridge is at risk of collapsing. Sustrans also closed the adjacent lower footbridge as there is potential for falling masonry from the River Calder bridge to harm people using the footbridge.
Sustrans carried out emergency stabilisation work in October and November 2021. This involved injecting grout into voids in the ground, including into the mine workings, which has helped to temporarily stabilise the bridge. Both Sustrans and the Coal Authority monitor the bridge to track any further movement and provide immediate warning of any significant changes in the bridge.
Malcolm Scott of the Coal Authority’s Public Safety and Subsidence Team said: “We are currently carrying out investigative works at the site to see if the damage to the bridge has been caused by the mine workings in the area. If that is found to be the case, the Coal Authority will work with our partners to provide a permanent solution so that the bridge can be reopened as soon as reasonably practicable.”
Burnley and Padiham’s MP Antony Higginbotham visited the works alongside local Councillor Jamie McGowan.
Mr Higginbotham said: “The Padiham Greenway Bridge serves as a vital connection for people in Padiham and further afield. Heavily used by dog walkers and cyclists it needs to be reopened as soon as possible and is why I’ve been working with both the Coal Authority and Sustrans to find out the definitive cause of the issue.”
Will Haynes, Infrastructure Director for Sustrans said: “We are committed to fixing the bridge and opening up this section of the Greenway again as soon as we can. This is one of our most popular local paths for walking, cycling and using a mobility aid. The safety of our users is our top priority.
“Unfortunately it is likely to take some time while we determine the causes of settlement then design a solution to prevent further movement. As a charity we will need to work together with partners and the local community to raise the funds to fix it.”
The bridge is likely to be closed until at least late 2024. The work is complicated by the fact that repair works will almost certainly involve further work in the river, which requires a permit from the Environment Agency and can only be done when the water level is low, and in adherence with fishery rules.
The two-mile Padiham Greenway runs from Burnley to Padiham. It uses the track of the old railway and links the two town centres. It provides a safe, attractive route for people walking, cycling or wheeling to work, school and for leisure.