On Thursday 7th May, the country’s first stainless steel road bridge, spanning the River Eamont at Pooley Bridge in Cumbria, was lifted into place, and once completed later this summer, will reconnect the local community for the first time since the town’s historic bridge was washed away by Storm Desmond in 2015.
The timelapse video from the event can be viewed here: Pooley Bridge Lift
Cumbria County Council, working with Principal Contractor Eric Wright Civil Engineering and in partnership with an extensive specialised project team, oversaw the installation of the £5m, 320 tonne steel structure which was lifted into place using one of the largest mobile cranes in the country on Thursday afternoon. Works will continue over the coming months to finish the bridge so that it can be opened to the public.
The original bridge, which was built in 1764, was one of more than 700 bridges in the county to be damaged by the 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, designed by GHD and the steelwork was fabricated by WEC Group in Darwen, Lancashire in four separate sections before being transported to site earlier in the year. The bridge was then pieced together before a concrete arch was also cast onto it, before being lifted into place on Thursday as one complete structure.
Commenting on the design and installation of the bridge 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 that 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.”
Commenting on the lift Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “This is a significant milestone in reconnecting the local community and it is great to see the impressive new bridge structure lifted into place at Pooley Bridge. 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 but once these measures are relaxed we hope people will again visit this beautiful part of Cumbria and see the new bridge for themselves.”
The project restarted at the end of March after clear guidance from the government with regard to site health and safety under Covid-19 measures.
Eric Wright Civil Engineering will now complete the finishing works and aims to open the bridge at the earliest possible opportunity.
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.