Engineers from Cumbria County Council, the Highways Agency, and the armed services have been working hard to prevent any further tragedies, survey every bridge in the county which is near water, and look at replacement bridge options both for the short term and the long term.
Just about every thread on Political Betting for the past week has included at least one contributor who asks why Bailey Bridges are not being used in Cumbria.
That was considered early on, and the professionals tell us that Bailey Bridges are not suitable for the particular circumstances of these particular bridges, but that the army will be able to provide some assistance, and today that is happening. Construction work will begin by the army today on a new temporary footbridge crossing the River Derwent in Workington, uniting communities currently cut off on the north and south side of the river following the collapse of Workington Bridge and the footbridge, and by the structural damage making Calva Bridge unusable. It is hoped the new bridge will be completed by December 5.
Structural engineers are due to complete their checks on Friday on around 1,300 bridges which are near water (the county has around 1,800 bridges in total, but 500 are not near water and therefore haven't needed to be checked after the flooding). So far seven bridges have been identified as requiring principal bridge inspections, where divers will assess their foundations to look for scour damage and erosion. An inspection typically takes a day and can only be done once river levels are suitable.
These bridges are:
Holmrook Bridge - Holmrook (Copeland)
Egremont Bridge - Egremont (Copeland)
Broughton Bridge - Great Broughton (Allerdale)
Butt Bridge - Ennerdale Bridge (Copeland)
Wath Bridge - Cleator Moor (Copeland)
Gote Bridge – Cockermouth (Allerdale)
Greta Bridge – Keswick (Allerdale)
A number of other bridges remain closed either because they are clearly damaged beyond repair or there are still safety concerns. Only when engineers are satisfied that bridges are safe to open will they do so. Public safety must be the priority.
Talking about the floods in general, Cllr Jim Buchanan, Leader of Cumbria County Council, told the Cumbrian newspaper group this week:
"It is amazing to think how far we have come in just a week. There's clearly a lot of work still to be done, but the way everybody has clubbed together to get on with the task at hand has been inspiring. With this kind of spirit and 'can do' attitude, we'll get through this. I'd like to thank all of the communities who have been affected for being so understanding about the disruption to their lives and all of the people working so hard behind the scenes."
The following numbers of properties were flooded:
Cockermouth - 885
Keswick – 240
Workington - 66
Ulverston - 30
Kendal & Burneside - 20
There are also a substantial but undetermined number of other properties flooded in isolated areas.