Motorists are urged to slow down after an unknown driver hit a bridge wall near Clayworth and drove off, leaving a £20,000 repair bill.
The damage to the brick parapet of the Greys Bridge, on Wiseton Road, which happened in the early hours of Friday, December 18, is so “significant” that a section of it has been taken down and will have to be rebuilt.
The Canal and River Trust, the charity caring for 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales, is calling for motorists to slow down when crossing 200-year old canal bridges after the historic bridge over the Chesterfield Canal was damaged.
Sean McGinley, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Hump-back bridges are such an important part of the Chesterfield Canal’s character and the area’s history.
“Each time a bridge is hit a small bit of history is lost and it is heart-breaking for us to spend so much time and money caring for these amazing structures just to see them so carelessly damaged.
“Over the last year we’ve had to spend over £1million across the country repairing bridges hit by drivers and that’s money which could be better used maintaining and looking after the region’s canals.
“If motorists just slowed down a bit and took more care and attention then they would save themselves and us a lot of cost and aggravation, and protect the nation’s important canal heritage.”
Since the crash, the Trust says it has been working to inspect the damage and make the bridge safe both for motorists and people using the canal underneath.
Temporary barriers were put in place along the bridge until the full repair can be carried out, which is expected to take place early in the New Year.
A spoksesman for the Trust said it was clear the parapet was “less stable than first reported” so the navigation and towpath under the bridge were closed.
The canal and the towpath were reopened at 10am on Christmas Eve after the damaged parapet was removed and a concrete barrier was installed to protect traffic.
The spokesman said: “We are now working on the design of permanent repairs to the bridge.
“We are working with our contractor to facilitate these works so that they can be completed as soon as possible.”