For more than three years, the Bristol Chocolate Path has been closed due to subsidence —a phenomenon where the ground sinks due to movement of underground material. The path, which runs along River Avon was first closed in June of 2014 due to “significant ground movements”. It was reopened after two weeks without much assessment or work done to it.
The Chocolate Path, which was built in 1906, got its name from the way its pavement blocks resemble chocolate bars. The path was closed once again in December 2017 due to serious subsidence. The Bristol City Council approved £5m towards reparation of the mile-long path in February 2018. Despite this, the council has failed to act on its long-proposed reparation projects for more than a year and has faced the consequences of its negligence.
On 23rd January 2020, part of the river Avon that retains the wall failed overnight. Consequently, a section of the Chocolate Path and that of the adjoining Heritage railway fell into the river. Just weeks into March of 2021, the Bristol City Council had once again identified further damages to the Chocolate Path. This damage is associated with a severely corroded steel beam underneath that supports the Chocolate Path.
Repair costs for this had been estimated to £1m. Authorities fear that the collapse of this steel beam might cause the loss of Bristol’s Floating Harbour. It also poses a great danger to citizens.
Aside from this recently-identified problem, the city also harbours a multitude of structures around Avon River and the Chocolate Path that badly needs repair or replacement in the next few years. These reparation projects have been estimated to cost around £14.3m.
The planned date of reopening was initially in July of 2022. According to the council, this date does not seem attainable because of the piling problems and risks around Chocolate Path and its surrounding roads and structures. Currently, it remains closed because of subsidence.