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Morgan Est starts work on £4.6M Cumbrian temporary road bridge

Work to rebuild a connection for flood-wrecked Workington in Cumbria will begin almost immediately following today’s award of the construction contract for a new bridge to Morgan Est.

The contractor’s temporary offices have begun arriving on site, while ground excavations for the bridge’s foundations are set to start within days.

Up to £4.6M of funding provided by the Department for Transport (DfT) - also confirmed today - will pay for the bridge. Emergency capital highway maintenance funding from the DfT will also pay for one of the two permanent road bridges in the town to be built over the next two years (the other will be paid for through insurance).

Cumbria County Council fast tracked the schedule for letting the contract to ensure the town began its recovery after the floods hit and destroyed Northside bridge and caused huge damage to Workington’s Calva bridge in November.

The new two-lane, 350t bridge will be a Jansen manufactured bridge shipped in parts from Holland. These will be assembled on site to form the 67m long, 12m wide structure.

It is hoped that the new bridge will be open to traffic, including HGVs, by 28 May. Pedestrians and cyclists will also be able to use the bridge, which is situated around 200m east of the former Northside Bridge.

The first phase of work is to dig the foundations for the bridge and drive down the steel abutment piles which will house the concrete foundations. An estimated 500t of concrete will be needed for the project, with a further 900t of tarmac needed for the bridge surface and approach roads.

Around 35 workers will be on the site building the bridge and approach roads seven days a week, with plans to work 24 hours a day at key points in the project so that it can be constructed in the shortest possible time. Local people will be kept fully informed about the work programme so that disruption can be kept to a minimum and people are aware of the various key stages of the project. A community meeting held in Northside has already indicated strong local support for round-the-clock working where feasible to get the bridge built quickly.

Different elements to the project will be running concurrently to shorten the work programme, so the bridge and its foundations will be built at the same time as the approach roads. The bridge itself will be assembled on the site and then pushed over the river until it slots into the pre-prepared foundations on the other side.

The duration of the project has already been shortened by the council working with consultant Capita Symonds to design the bridge and commission vital borehole and investigative ground excavation work before the contract was signed.

“The government is committed to helping the people of Cumbria recover from the devastation caused by last year’s flooding and has already funded the Barker Crossing as well as providing additional rail services to provide vital links across the river at Workington,” said transport minister Sadiq Khan. “We have also supported Cumbria County Council in prioritising their recovery programme by paying for the cost of supplementary short-term project management resources. We will continue to work with the council to identify what further funding is required to restore the area’s critical infrastructure.”

“Today is a key day in that we have a contractor confirmed to do the work,” said Cumbria County Council leader Jim Buchanan. “In the meantime, we have also been working on plans for two permanent replacement road bridges in Workington, which we’re aiming to deliver within the next two years, as well as our plans to repair or replace the other damaged bridges in Allerdale and South Lakeland. The temporary Workington bridge is a vital part of the jigsaw we’re building to restore the transport infrastructure in west Cumbria.”

Meanwhile, the Department for Transport is also working with Cumbria to identify and cost damage to the county’s roads which would qualify for further funding under the Department’s emergency capital highway maintenance funding. Cumbria County Council is already planning to set aside an extra £12.2M in next year’s budget to help foot the bill for the damage to bridges, roads, footpaths and other county council-owned assets including the Port of Workington and Cockermouth library caused by the floods and recent freeze.

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