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Cumbria flood repairs gather momentum

One year on from 2009’s unprecedented flooding in Cumbria, 15 of the 20 bridges damaged or destroyed by the floods are now back in use, the Environment Agency has confirmed.

Work is ongoing to repair the remaining five, with one due to reopen this week.

“We’ve made tremendous strides forward in terms of recovery,” said Environment Agency area flood risk manager Glyn Vaughan.

“There’s been a real will to just get Cumbria back on its feet.” He said the construction of new bridges and flood defences means Cumbria “is coming out better than it was before in terms of infrastructure”.

Little Braithwaite bridge has been under repair since June and is scheduled to reopen this week, while the replacement for the collapsed Low Lorton bridge has been under construction since July and is expected to open in late November.

The target completion date in late October was missed after heavy rain delayed work.

“There’s been a real will to just get Cumbria back on its feet.”

Glyn Vaughan

The other three bridges still closed are the badly damaged Workington (Calva), Northside and Bouthray bridges.

Balfour Beatty concession Connect Roads began repair work on the Calva bridge in June (NCE 27 May).

The replacement for the collapsed Northside bridge is at the design stage. Amey is due to start repairs to the Bouthray bridge, whose central pier was destroyed in the new year.

A great deal of other repair work has happened over the past 12 months, said Vaughan. New £500,000 flood defences are under construction behind 42 properties on Gote Road in Cockermouth.

A series of walls and embankments up to 1.8m tall will be completed by the end of this month, protecting the street from a one in 100 year flood event. Flood walls on Carding Mill Lane and High Hill in Keswick have been strengthened with reinforced concrete at a cost of £700,000. This was done with a view to further extension of the walls’ height, said Vaughan.

Dowel holes were built into the top of the wall, and the foundations were built large enough to support increased height.

“We’ve built them back to the height they were, but the cappings can come off and rebar put in if necessary,” he said.

Other work is across the region includes

  • construction of a number of new hydrometry stations to replace those washed away in the floods
  • repairs to a badly damaged weir in the River Kent
  • removal of more than 14,000t of gravel islands deposited on river beds
  • £1.5M of repair work to third party flood assets in Cockermouth and Keswick, such as garden walls.

Vaughan said only third party defences were damaged.

The rest were overtopped but unharmed. He said the Environment Agency has used contractor VolkerStevin for the most of its work.

The Environment Agency is also conducting a feasibility study – due to conclude in spring 2011 – to assess the level of flood protection in Cockermouth.

It will decide whether a full flood alleviation scheme is needed.

The Agency is also waiting to hear from the government as to whether there will be funding available for a planned £5.5M extension of Keswick’s existing flood defences.

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