A crucial bridge into the Bere Peninsula is due to reopen tomorrow (Thursday) it was confirmed at a public meeting last night.

Denham Bridge, near Bere Alston, was closed three weeks ago after traffic damaged the stonework, the second time it has been closed this year.

New temporary measures to protect the bridge will be set up soon, while permanent measures may take six to 12 months to put in place.

There has been widespread concern among residents at the vulnerability of the bridge after repeated closures due to vehicles hitting the parapets forced them to take long diversions to Tavistock and Plymouth.

At last night’s meeting at Bere Alston Parish Hall, villagers were briefed on the plans to prevent the bridge being damaged again by traffic misjudging the bend in the road.

The meeting was addressed by Devon County Council chief engineer (bridges and structures) Simon Hill and chaired by county councillor Philip Sanders.

As well as confirming the latest reopening, the meeting was told the council will fit temporary measures including enhanced protection using concrete blocks, positioned to force traffic to use the full width of the road and away from the vulnerable corner which keeps being hit.

Chris Smart, resident, said: “I probably share the view of most people in attendance, that we are very grateful to Simon Hill for undertaking such an unusual meeting (he said it was a very rare thing for a community to be so engaged), and for Cllr Sanders for organising it. It has shown the community that so much has and continues to happen ‘behind the scenes’ and that our plight is taken very seriously.”

A temporary traffic management order will be in place whilst permanent measures are agreed and signed off by engineers. A carriageway of eight metres long and and two metres wide will be allowed over the bridge while the work is being done.

Simon said the figures were based on modelled scenarios for the dimensions of vehicles, enabling them to safely get through the bridge. However, they might not reflect the final measures or restrictions. Temporary road signage will go up imminently, after the reopening.

Detailed site topographic surveying was due to be carried out today to enable a highly-detailed plan of the route and its access roads to be created to best understand constraints and positions where potential permanent physical restrictions could be placed.

Villagers discussed the placement of physical size restriction measures such as bollards, to keep traffic away from the sides of the bridge. These are the most significant and key measures being put forward by the engineers to protect the bridge from further damage.

They might be supported by increased and better mandatory restriction signs (legally enforceable rather than advisory), and potentially CCTV – though the latter could be hindered by the remote location.