Cumbria County Council’s replacement bridge project at Pooley Bridge is set to resume on Monday 20 April, following a review of the authority’s construction schemes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Works on the Pooley Bridge scheme were temporarily suspended on 27 March to support social distancing measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The construction industry has since received greater clarity and direction on this issue from the Government, which has confirmed work at construction sites can continue provided enhanced operating procedures are in place.
In the light of this clear guidance, the county council has reviewed a number of key strategic construction sites to identify if works can resume safely in line with the new procedures and Public Health England guidance. Eric Wright Civil Engineering (EWCE), our main contractor on the Pooley Bridge project, has confirmed they can resume works on the replacement bridge following guidance from the Construction Leadership Council.
Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is both a health and economic crisis. We are working with our main contractors to support local economic activity where it is safe to do so. The clear guidance from government means that some projects like the new Pooley Bridge project, can safely resume with necessary measures put in place by EWCE to protect the workforce and community.
“These are truly exceptional circumstances and we will be closely monitoring all construction activity to ensure government guidance is strictly followed. The health, safety and wellbeing of our residents, communities and contractor workforce are of paramount importance to us.”
Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council added: “These are seriously challenging times for our UK economy and it’s vital where organisations are able to work safely and adhere to the Government guidelines then they should continue to do so. I welcome this further clarification from Government which supports the construction industry and other sectors to continue to work – providing they are able to keep their workforce and the public safe at the same time.”
Commenting on behalf of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, Managing Director Diane Bourne said: “The welfare and safety of our staff and contractors is of paramount importance. Working in partnership with Cumbria County Council, we have been following Public Health England’s advice and following official guidance on safe Site Operating Procedures including social distancing and safe working, also reducing the number of people on site at any one time and resequencing activities where required to ensure the site team can work as safely as possible.
“We have introduced stringent health and safety measures across site, including undertaking a programme of rigorous daily cleaning, installation of new and additional wash facilities, safe distancing measures in welfare areas and staggered breaks. We are focusing on activities which can be undertaken safely and in line with government guidance.”
The new structure will be the first stainless steel road bridge of its kind in the country. It was scheduled to be craned into position over the River Eamont in early May 2020 with the bridge opening in June 2020. However the temporary suspension of works means the timescale for this key milestone in the Pooley Bridge project is subject to change.
The council is also working closely with the contractors commissioned to work on other key construction projects to determine if they are also able to safely resume working.