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Collapsed Workington bridge inspected in 2008

A bridge which collapsed sending a policeman tumbling to his death in a swollen river was inspected last year and found to be “structurally sound”, a council has said.

No problems were identified at Northside Bridge at Workington in Cumbria during the inspection last July, Cumbria County Council said.

All of the Cumbria’s 1,800 bridges are now undergoing new inspections in the wake of the record-breaking rainfall which caused chaos across the county.

A council spokesman said: “Cumbria County Council can confirm that Northside Bridge at Workington was structurally sound when last inspected in July 2008.

“No identifiable problems were found which would require a further more detailed structural inspection.

“As standard practice bridges are usually inspected every two years.

“All of Cumbria’s 1,800 bridges are now undergoing new inspections as a direct result of the serious weather conditions and unprecedented amounts of rainfall.”

Pc Bill Barker was directing motorists away from the bridge when it collapsed and he disappeared into the swollen waters of the River Derwent.

The married father-of-four would have celebrated his 45th birthday this week.

Cumbria County Council said an investigation into the collapse of the bridge would take place when water levels fell and made it possible.

Inspectors look for signs of distress and call in structural engineers if further inspection is required.

The council spokesman said: “It must be stressed that Cumbria has suffered an exceptional weather event with more rain falling in the county than ever recorded in a 24 hour period.

“This led to unprecedented amounts of water flowing at high speeds through rivers and under bridges.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Just a few of questions:

    When did this bridge last have a Principle Inspection? It sounds like the inspection carried out in 2008 was a General Inspection which would not have allowed each span to be inspected in detail.

    Can we see a copy of the Inspection Report from 2008 and also the scope of that inspection?

    Can we also see the report from the previous Principle Inspection? When was the next Principle Inspection due to be carried out?

    When was the last scour diving inspection carried out?

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  • First impressions, taken only from news broadcasts, would suggest that the most likely cause of this spate of bridge faifures is bed scour, which is notoriously difficult to examine in the routine inspections. It is probable that the bridge foundation went as deep as the technology that was then available would permit, but in an exceptional event such as this the entire river bed is likely to be in motion for a depth of several metres below the normal river bed level.

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