Please see the below update from County Councillor Alistair Dewhirst:
A quick update. I must tell you that there is no higher priority in Devon at the moment and all are working straight through until the problem is sorted. The diving team were working over the weekend and we are still waiting for the results of yesterday’s inspection – sadly the more we inspect the more we find degraded timber. There is still a possibility that, should more problems be found, the Chief Engineer will have no choice but to close the bridge.
There is however a ray of light. The engineers have devised a system over the weekend that involves encapsulating the piles and injecting micro-concrete at high pressure – this would take the load further down the piles into areas where there is no degradation of the timber. Devon County Engineers are today talking to a local firm of Engineering Contractors who we believe could do the job straight away with minimal disruption and take two or three weeks – this would then mean the weight restriction could be lifted to 7 1/2 tonne. We are currently mobilising heavy equipment across the south west so that if and when we need to put additional piles in to support the bridge back to a 40 tonne limit we are ready.
I think the next few hours are going to be critical – I have impressed on everyone the importance of keeping the bridge open. I have also discussed many of the suggestions made on social media such as putting a baily bridge on top of the existing, but sadly all of these ideas were not feasable.