A TWO-YEAR-LONG closure order at a well-used bridge on the Trans Pennine Trail has been extended for another 12 months.

Bullhouse Bridge, which carries the Trans Pennine Trail across the A628 at Millhouse Green, was closed to the public in May 2022 after inspectors uncovered a rotten deck.

Government cash - totalling £150,000 - was secured last year which locals hoped would fast-track the fitment of a new deck to replace the current one, which is unsafe to carry weight on the popular route.

Despite the council putting the contract out to tender - which saw several firms lodge their initial interest - nobody bid to take on the ‘specialist’ work and it’s now set to be reopened to companies.

The Chronicle can reveal that a 12-month extension was granted this week.

A spokesperson from the Trans Pennine Trail said: “We fully understand continued public concerns about the delay in replacing the bridge deck on the trail and can only reassure people that this is our priority.

“Unfortunately we have received no responses to the recent tender process for the works.

“We have been discussing the work with the council’s highways team but despite their best efforts, as of June 11, they cannot find space within their works programme to take on this project and achieve it this year.

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“So, procurement colleagues are now preparing to go back out to tender for eight weeks which might encourage responses from companies who didn’t have the time to respond previously.

“Due to no-one coming forward to bid for the work we have had to apply to the Secretary of State for an extension of the temporary closure order and they have authorised up to 12 months.

“If any local companies are interested in submitting a tender response they will need to register on the council’s ‘Yortender’ system.

“We will provide an update as soon as we have one and thank everyone for their continued patience.”

A nearby bridge at Hazlehead has also been identified as being in a similar predicament, although the Chronicle understands its deck isn’t in the same decaying position as Bullhouse’s.

However, councillors have warned that that too will require considerable cash - and time - to fix and have called on the council to offer both to interested contractors to tie them in to completing the work.

They also raised concerns over trail users having to cross a diversion across Manchester Road, which had its 60mph limit reduced to 40mph as a result of the bridge’s closure.

A joint statement from Couns Hannah Kitching, David Greenhough and Mandy Lowe-Flello added: “As local councillors we share the utter frustration at the lack of progress on the Bullhouse Bridge repair and TPT closure.

“After good news at the start of the year with adequate funding finally secured we had hoped work would be starting imminently.

“We do remain confident that there is a will to get this work done motivated in large part by the imminent failure of the bridge deck at Hazlehead.

“When this bridge fails and needs to be closed there will be a total closure of the TPT as there is no available diversion.

This would bring incredibly bad press for the council but the main hold up seems to be process, rather than political.”