A specialist bridge company is to report to the council later this week on the cost and feasibility of installing a temporary structure ahead of longer-term repairs taking place.
The cliff lift was closed in March on safety grounds due to unexpected rapid deterioration of the metal structure supporting the footway.
Although final costs are not yet known until the report is received, initial estimates are that any temporary bridge would cost £10,000 for the summer season, while £40,000 of works will be needed to remove the existing bridge structure. The latter works would be required in any case ahead of full repairs.
Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Isle of Wight Council leader, said:
“Since the lift was closed, the council has been looking at all possible options to ensure the facility is opened for the main tourism season.
“We are hopeful that a temporary footbridge can be installed which would clearly benefit the local area, residents, visitors and businesses. The solution we are looking at would also be of benefit in that it could be used again next year if there was any delay or problem in installing a new permanent bridge to the lift.
“There still of course remains a degree of uncertainty about the feasibility and timing of a temporary bridge which will rely on the design and installation of a suitable method of fixing it to the lift shaft.
“Nothing is guaranteed but hopefully this demonstrates the council is doing all it can to ensure the lift can open.”
Funding for the installation of a new link bridge to the lift and the full refurbishment of the motor room is due to be considered by the council’s Executive when it meets on 14 May. The report will recommend the replacement rather than the refurbishment of the existing link bridge in order that its longevity can be guaranteed for the good of the local community.
Councillor Bacon added:
“It is important that if we are going to invest significant sums of money in replacing the bridge and refurbishing the motor room that we are confident we are not going to find ourselves in the same position in three or four years.
“It might even be possible to construct the bridge out of materials that are more resistant to the seaside environment or to find a way that it can be stored safely when out of use to ensure that it is effectively maintained.”