TROUBLED Poole Bridge has finally reopened - with more of a whimper than a bang.

Officials quietly gave the all-clear for the first vehicles to roll over the renovated structure around 4pm on Tuesday, after final safety tests were completed earlier in the day.

Reopening of the 90-year-old bridge is more than six months over schedule and has been pushed back seven times.

The original £4.7million costs are also likely to have grown significantly.

Engineers have blamed delays on tough working conditions, late delivery of parts, uncharted utility lines and unmapped remnants of previous bridges.

Calls for a full review - even a public enquiry - into the council's handling of the project have been called for. Some tough questions need to be answered in the coming weeks.

Borough of Poole (BOP) growth and infrastructure head Julian McLaughlin said: "The contractor, Interserve, has advised that all the outstanding works and safety checks have been completed, so the council has now taken back possession of the bridge.

"There are some minor visible defects for the contractor to resolve under the contract, but we are pleased to confirm that the bridge is again reopen for public use."

Mr McLaughlin said the wait for a reopening date had been frustrating for everyone.

"Once again, we would like to apologise to residents, especially people living in Hamworthy, for the inconvenience caused by the delays," he added.

"This has been a complex and challenging project, but it has been important not to compromise on quality or engineering standards.

"It would have been wrong to reopen the bridge before it was properly tested and we were confident it was safe and reliable."

The refurbished bridge now benefits from wider approach spans and walkways, easing traffic congestion and creating a safer experience for pedestrians and cyclists, the council says.

BOP cabinet portfolio holder for transportation, planning and regeneration, Cllr Ian Potter, said: "It is good news that Borough of Poole has taken back control of Poole Bridge.

"We have had to wait much longer than was originally envisaged to complete this project, but the outcome is a newly refurbished bridge that will provide a better journey for people travelling to and from Hamworthy for many years to come.”

Meanwhile, Dorset Local Enterprise Director Lorna Carver, said: "We very much welcome the completion of this critical infrastructure project in Poole."