One of the largest cranes in the country has today been used to successfully lift the new road bridge into position at Pooley Bridge, marking a hugely significant step forward in Cumbria County Council’s £5m bridge project.
The complex operation to place the country’s first stainless steel road bridge across the River Eamont was completed in around three hours on Thursday 7 May.
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 300 tonne steel structure which was lifted into place using one of the largest mobile cranes in the country on Thursday.
Works will now continue over the coming months, including completing the steel and concrete required to form the upper road deck and new road surfacing, drainage and parapets, to finish the bridge.
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 Covid-19 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.”
Diane Bourne, Managing Director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering said: “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.”
Miles MacInnes, Chair of Barton and Pooley Bridge Parish Council, said: “It’s tremendously exciting to see this iconic structure finally lifted into place – something we’ve been longing for since our lovely 251 year old bridge was swept away by Storm Desmond four and a half years ago. I think it’s fair to say that Pooley Bridge – her bridge, her businesses and her residents – has come in for a battering since 2015: from having no bridge to now Covid-19. However, our community is nothing if not resilient. I am so proud of how we have all come together over this time – an already close-knit community working more closely together for a common cause.
“I like to think that 250-odd years ago, our community created the very best bridge they could, using the very best engineering methods and design principles available. Today, I believe the ‘bridge team’ have done exactly the same, and quite frankly, she’s beautiful. Here’s to her and the village’s vibrant future – we can’t wait to share her with you once it is safe and sensible to do so. For the time being however we must urge everyone to stay away and monitor progress on social media.”
Now that the bridge has been lifted in place the contractor will continue to complete the finishing works in order to be able to open the bridge at the earliest possible opportunity whilst ensuring that the works take place in line with public health guidelines.
The new Pooley Bridge will be the first stainless steel road bridge of its kind in the country. It was scheduled to be completed and the bridge opened in June 2020. However the temporary suspension of works due to COVID-19 restrictions means the timescale for completion of the Pooley Bridge project is subject to change.