When the road crossing is completed later this summer it will reconnect the local community for the first time since the town’s old bridge was washed away by Storm Desmond in 2015.
Cumbria County Council, working with principal contractor Eric Wright Civil Engineering and an extensive project team, oversaw the installation of the £5m, 285-tonne steel structure.
It was lifted into place by Sarens using one of the largest mobile cranes in the country on the afternoon of Thursday 7th May 2020. Works will continue over the coming months to finish the bridge so that it can be opened to the public.
The original bridge, built in 1764, was one of more than 700 bridges in Cumbria to be damaged by the 2015 storm, which was said to be a 1-in-700-year level event. The concept for the new three-layer stainless steel and concrete composite structure was developed by Knight Architects and designed by GHD.
The steelwork was fabricated by WEC Group in Darwen, Lancashire and transported to site earlier in the year in four separate sections. The bridge was then pieced together before a concrete arch was also cast onto it, before being lifted into place as a complete structure.
Diane Bourne, managing director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, said: “It was important that the design of the new bridge struck a balance between being future-proofed for flood resilience and would meet the needs and wishes of the local people and visitors to this beautiful part of the country. That called for a slender bridge which would complement the local scenery and would also be resilient to any future episodes of extreme flooding. We are delighted that the local community will very soon be connected again and thank them for all of their support and patience, especially over the very challenging conditions in recent weeks.”
County councillor Keith Little, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This improved connectivity, will not only be welcomed by local residents, but will be a vital component in re-starting the local economy as we come out of the lock-down period. We had hoped to have a celebration event to mark the occasion but under the social distancing restrictions the lift took place without public access. Once these measures are relaxed we hope people will again visit this beautiful part of Cumbria and see the new bridge for themselves.”
After a brief pause to works when the coronavirus lockdown began, the project restarted at the end of March in accordance with the new site operating procedures.
The project team includes: Eric Wright Civil Engineering, GHD, WEC Group, R Betts, Sarens, Eden Stonework, PBA Ecology, Waitings, Bill Boley, Knight Architects and Cumbria County Council.
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