ONE of the region's iconic bridges is to be closed to traffic for several weeks while it undergoes a major facelift.

The Newport Bridge, which links Middlesbrough with Stockton, has been undergoing a deep clean since July 28, ahead of it being repainted

As a result, the A1032 which crosses the bridge will be closed to vehicles until 6 October.

It was expected to re-open on 7 September, but the high pressure cleaning of more than 50,000 square metres of metal has revealed more corrosion and damage than anticipated which means that extensive repairs are required.

This means that the A1032 will need to remain closed until 6 October to allow the additional essential repairs to be carried out.

Once the repairs are complete, the 80 year old Grade II structure will be painted red and silver to celebrate its construction and engineering features.

Access for cyclists and pedestrians will be maintained whilst the repairs and painting takes place by keeping at least one footpath open during the road closure.

Stockton Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and transport, Councillor Mike Smith, said: “Newport Bridge is an important part of our highways network so it is vital that all of the necessary repairs are made.

“Through this massive cleaning process we have been able to identify all of the areas which need repairing. We will now start work on those repairs so that the painting can start next month.

“We appreciate that the A1032 is a well-used road and apologise for any inconvenience caused but hope that drivers understand that we have a duty to maintain this fantastic listed structure to ensure that it can continue to be used safely with minimal disruption for many more years to come.”

Newport Bridge was opened in 1934 as a 'lifting bridge' which lifted horizontally between two towers supported on wire ropes at each end of the span.

Teesside iron and steel works, Dorman Long, fabricated the steel for the bridge.

Originally 12 men were employed to man the bridge around the clock and during the 1940s and 50s and average of 800 vessels per year would pass beneath it.