[W]ith the reopening this afternoon of Holmrook Bridge on the A595, the council’s Assistant Director for Highways and Transport, Stephen Hall, has explained the council’s approach to bridge monitoring and closure decisions post-Storm Desmond.
Mr Hall said: “Since December 2015 we have invested a great deal of time and effort not only in repairing damaged bridges and increasing their resilience, but also in developing an understanding of how they will be affected by flood waters. Using information from surveys and inspections, and analysing the way the bridges have been constructed, we have begun to build a picture of how they will respond to the high river levels we experience during flood events.
“This has enabled us to build a monitoring system which uses information from river gauges, digital cameras and site inspections to determine trigger intervention points when water levels reach pre-determined heights at our bridges. Depending on the severity of the flood event our response can vary from a rapid follow up inspection through to a precautionary closure until an inspection can take place. This new approach has been used several times since December 2015 to trigger additional inspections but the last week’s rainfall is the first time it has led to precautionary bridge closures.
“We only implement a closure when we believe there could be a risk to the safety of road users. We then work with the highest priority to inspect and assess the closed bridge to determine whether it is safe to re-open for public use. This is exactly what we have just done at Holmrook Bridge on the A595 in Copeland. Since closing the bridge on Wednesday we’ve been able to undertake inspection and assessment which has enabled us to determine that it is safe to re-open for public use. We fully understand the disruption closures cause to the travelling public and we do everything we can to keep this to a minimum, but our first priority always has to be public safety.”