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UK’s first stainless steel road bridge officially opens at Pooley Bridge

The UK’s first stainless steel road bridge was officially opened today – Friday 23 October – over the River Eamont at Pooley Bridge.

Measuring 128ft long, the landmark structure reconnects the Ullswater valley with a permanent new bridge to replace the 18th Century stone structure destroyed during Storm Desmond in December 2015.

Cllr Tony Markley, Vice Chairman of Cumbria County Council, officially opened the new single span bridge, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that took place this morning.

Cumbria County Council has delivered the multi-million pound bridge, a flagship scheme in the council’s Infrastructure Recovery Programme which has repaired damage inflicted by Storm Desmond to over 450 bridges as well as large sections of road and other highway infrastructure.

The new bridge at Pooley Bridge is now open to traffic and pedestrians. It will boost the economy and transport links for local people in this popular Lake District beauty spot.

The bridge was designed as a single span structure to avoid the need for piers in the river, thereby reducing the flood risk and making the structure more flood resilient.

In total, around 80 tonnes of stainless steel has been used, 2,000 tonnes of concrete laid and 650 square metres of locally sourced stone. Some 250 people have been involved in the project and the bridge has taken approximately 10,000 person hours to construct.

Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Pooley Bridge’s new bridge is officially open to the public. The council has been working hard to repair the widespread damage to our highways following Storm Desmond and this is one of the last major projects.

“I’d like to thank all our contractors for creating a fantastic new structure, and I’d also like to thank the local community in Pooley Bridge who have worked with us through the design stages and throughout the construction. I know they’ve had a lot to put up with, but we now have an iconic new bridge to be very proud of and which will attract many visitors in the years to come.”

Pooley Bridge

Miles MacInnes, Chairman of Barton & Pooley Bridge Parish Council, said: “Our community was split in two when we lost our 251-year-old bridge to Storm Desmond; it was like losing a well-loved relative. It’s been a long five years and local businesses have suffered but we’re really thrilled that the new bridge is finally open. It looks wonderful and we are sure this spectacular modern structure will prove a popular tourist attraction in its own right.  We look forward to welcoming visitors back to this beautiful part of Lakeland.”

Diane Bourne, Managing Director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, main contractor for the project, said: “It’s always so sad when we lose a piece of history so it was really important that we built a new, modern bridge which would not only complement the local surroundings but which would ensure the communities either side of the River Eamont remained permanently connected for future generations to come. The new bridge is slender and exceptionally strong and is designed to be resilient to any future extreme weather conditions. We’re very proud to deliver the UK’s first stainless steel road bridge and I’d like to thank all of the team for working so hard to complete this landmark project and to the local community for their support and patience.”

Cumbria County Council and Eric Wright Civil Engineering have worked hard to get the new bridge open to all traffic in time for the October half term holiday.

A larger scale event had originally been planned to mark the official opening of the new bridge, however this has been postponed because of the need to protect people’s health by following Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing guidance.

Cumbria County Council has produced a commemorative video telling the story of the making of the new bridge.

Bridge project timeline:

  • 6 December 2015 – historic stone bridge washed away by Storm Desmond
  • March 2016 – temporary road bridge opens
  • April 2018 – Eric Wright Civil Engineering appointed main contractor for new bridge
  • May 2019 – works start on site paving way for construction of new bridge
  • September 2019 – temporary footbridge opens
  • April 2020 – main structure of new bridge lifted into place across River Eamont
  • September 2020 – temporary footbridge removed
  • 23 October 2020 – new bridge opens

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