Update - Bridge repairs set to hinder Fairport traffic
In what can only be described as a staggering example of bad timing, Oxfordshire Highways have begun Cropredy bridge repairs just as the Fairport weekend is set to begin.
Repairs to the pedestrian side of the bridge, by Cropredy's Bridge Stores, are already underway reducing the narrow road over the bridge to a single lane controlled by temporary traffic lights.
Complete closure of the road, within selected hours, will be required during all three days of the festival, Thursday, August 8 to Saturday, 10, as thousands of caravans, camper vans, cars and additional public transport flock to the village.
Festival director Gareth Williams said: "We are told the footbridge has been deemed unsafe and needs remedial work. It is very unfortunate that this will coincide with Fairport's Cropredy Convention but public safety must come first.
"We have published arrival guidance for festival-goers on our website, this will help minimise traffic delays. So if you are coming to the event please visit our website.
Gareth added: "We have also sent the guidance to people on our mailing list."
The hours of the road closure over the Fairport festival are: Thursday, August 8, 10.30pm until midnight. Friday, August 9, 11.45pm until 1am (Aug 10) and Saturday, August 10, 11.45pm until 1am, Sunday 11.
Oxfordshire County Council said in a statement: "Concern was raised about the condition of the footbridge during a general inspection on June 6 . This was a routine inspection carried out at a maximum of two yearly intervals.
"Following these concerns being raised a more detailed inspection for assessment of the bridge was carried out on June 13. This led to the recommendation for some immediate repairs to the eastern span of the bridge and an assessment of the load carrying capacity of the larger western span, which had no obvious defects.
"The repairs to the eastern end of the bridge were designed by July 4 and implemented on July 19, with a view to making this part of the bridge safe to carry the anticipated pedestrian crowd loading during the festival.
"The assessment of the load carrying capacity of the longer span was progressed sufficiently by July 23 to indicate that this capacity was unsuitable for carrying pedestrian crowd loading and a meeting was held to discuss options.
"It was determined that there were no measures that could readily be introduced to strengthen this part of the bridge to carry crowd loading, but that it could still carry more normal pedestrian loading.
"It was then decided to leave the bridge open, but to plan to close it during the festival when crowd loading was anticipated. During the planning for this it came to light on July 24 that some filming was taking place in the area and that this was resulting in a larger number of people using the footbridge, so it was then decided to close it immediately.
"It is planned to now reconstruct this bridge as quickly as possible, but this will require numerous permissions to be obtained and a suitable design to be completed. This is likely to take many months to complete.
"We hope to have the bridge replaced by the end of March 2020. Agreements are to be reached with Thames Water regarding their pipes suspended beneath the bridge and the Canals and Rivers Trust regarding the likely required temporarily closure of the canal to navigation.
"It is anticipated that they will not permit this until the winter, outside the busy boating season."