A temporary footbridge is being built by the army in the Cumbrian town of Workington following the floods that devastated the region.
The footbridge, which will span the River Derwent and connect the north side of the town with the south, is expected to be open to the public by December 5.
The community was left isolated following the collapse of the Workington Bridge and the closure of the Calva Bridge, which remains dangerously unstable. The new bridge will provide a vital connection and will be paid for by the Department of Transport as part of the government’s recovery package.
“Installing a footbridge is the simplest and quickest immediate solution to span the River Derwent.”
Cumbria County Council spokesman
Preparatory work to install the Mabey & Johnson logistic support bridge has begun and the foundations should be in place by this Sunday, a spokesman for the county council said. “The bridge then needs to be assembled and dropped into place − hopefully the footbridge will be open to the public by December 5,” he added.
“Installing a footbridge is the simplest and quickest immediate solution to span the River Derwent. Engineers are still exploring options on road connections over the river, but at this stage the immediate priority is to link the two communities. The bridge will be positioned 300m upstream (east) of the Calva Bridge and access will be from the park on the south side.”
Some 200 soldiers will be involved in the operation, including the Royal Engineers (to build it), Royal Logistic Corps (to transport the bridge pieces), Royal Signals and Royal Military Police. The military effort is being co-ordinated by 42 (North West) Brigade and soldiers will be carrying out the work in round-the-clock shifts to reconnect the town as soon as possible.
Survey work was completed by a team from 64 Works Group Royal Engineers, based in Nottingham, who will also oversee the building work. The construction work will be undertaken by 3 Armoured Engineer Squadron, part of 22 Engineer Regiment, based in Tidworth.
The bridge will be positioned upstream of the Calva Bridge and access for the south side will be near the car park opposite Marks and Spencer.
Commander 42 (North West) Brigade’s Brigadier Bill Aldridge said his brigade are pleased to asisst. “The Army is very much part of society and part of the fabric of Cumbria where my Brigade is based and we are determined to do what we can, where appropriate, and in partnership with the civilian agencies,” he said.
The news comes after vehicles have been seen recklessly crossing the Calva Bridge this morning after drivers removed road barriers. Authorities are warning that drivers must not attempt to cross the Calva Bridge and reinforced barriers are now being installed.