BUILDING bridges is the top priority for highway bosses battling to reconnect the communities of Swaledale and ensure business can continue as usual.

The sheer force of water of the flash floods washed away two major routes into the Dales. The bridge on Grinton Moor on the C106 was lost as well as the most regularly used route into the Dale from Richmond, the B6270, where a bridge and part of the carriageway collapsed.

Contractors brought in by North Yorkshire County Council started work this week on temporary structures which will reopen the roads until more extensive work can be carried out next year.

The B6270 is due to reopen by August 16, with the C106, which is one of the most iconic cycling routes in the Dales, due to reopen by August 30.

The council's director for business and the environment, David Bowe said the Grinton Moor bridge was torn apart by the sheer force of water and debris brought by a huge head of water which came down the valley, hitting it like a missile.

He added: "The sheer force of the water combined with the debris and boulders in it just tore the bridge apart. It was like sandblasting the bridge."

The bridge on the B6270 is still standing but has been seriously undermined and cannot carry traffic. A nearby section of road has also fallen away after being undermined by the flooding.

Routes into Reeth are currently on minor roads with diversions of up to five miles.

Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: "Our highways teams are constantly monitoring the diversion routes, some of which are on very minor roads, to make sure they are safe and usable at all times. We’re asking everyone to drive with care and be patient in letting other vehicles pass safely."

The UCI Road World Championship route goes over the C106, and engineers believe it will be open for the race in September.

Council leader Carl Les said the authority is doing everything it can to help and called on people to support the Dales.

"Our thoughts are with those businesses and residents who have seen their homes and businesses destroyed and lost treasured possessions," he said.

"But now it is imperative people continue to support businesses throughout the Yorkshire Dales. While we urge people to be adhere to any road closure or flood warning signs the overwhelming majority of the Yorkshire Dales is still accessible and its businesses open."