West Sussex County Council has apologised for the delay in replacing a bridge between Eaton’s Farm, in Ashurst and Catsfold Farm, in Henfield, but insisted work would begin this summer.
The bridge was closed in December 2014 after an engineering assessment found the four piles that support the bridge were suffering from wet rot, with one pile in particularly poor condition.
Further investigation established a significant section of the cross timbers supporting the deck had been lost.
West Sussex County Council took the decision to close the bridge in the interest of public safety.
A spokesman said: “Work to build a replacement bridge is planned to start this summer, or sooner if suitable weather and ground conditions allow.
“The new bridge will be a fibreglass reinforced polymer (FRP) footbridge, with a single span between the riverbanks and without the need for two piers in the channel, unlike the existing structure.
“FRP is a fairly new technology that has the advantage of needing less maintenance and is also extremely lightweight compared to other traditional forms of construction, such as steel. These are important considerations given the remote countryside location and the logistics of getting the bridge into position.
“This will be the first public highway FRP bridge in West Sussex. We are grateful to landowners on both sides of the river for their continuing support for access.
“The work could take six weeks to complete, although this will depend on factors such as weather conditions. It will involve considerable use and movement of plant, including a crane to lift the new bridge into position.
“We are also grateful for the continuing patience of walkers who, regrettably, have been unable to cross the river at this point since November 2014. This is a beautiful part of West Sussex and we are working to ensure walkers can enjoy it again and for many years ahead.”
Due to the age of the bridge, West Sussex County Council said it was not considered to be cost-effective to repair the structure as this would require significant ongoing maintenance.
Despite the bridge being closed in December 2014 the bridge has continued to be used and walkers have been putting themselves in danger, according to West Sussex County Council, forcing the council to remove decking boards from the bridge to prevent further use.
The closest alternative bridge (Bineham Bridge) is located approximately 1km to the south. This can be accessed by the riverbank footpaths on either side of the River Adur.