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15 December 2015

Council highways teams working flat out on road and bridge repairs

Road closed sign - yellow

Full list of road and bridge closures

The county council’s highways teams continue to pull out all the stops to get Cumbria moving again. The impact of last week’s floods was huge, and only now as waters subside and the debris from landslides and rivers is cleared, have engineers been able to start assessing the extent of the damage and begin repair work.

22 bridges in the county remain closed- two destroyed, four partially destroyed, 10 damaged and a further six closed pending underwater inspection. The six include critical bridges in Carlisle, Penrith, Cockermouth, Broughton, Temple Sowerby and Staveley. In addition a further 10 foot bridges are closed. Specialists have now been commissioned to undertake further follow up inspections on all 1,600 bridges countywide. These are ongoing and due to be completed prior to Christmas. Bridges in Appleby and Farlam have now reopened.

Progress with underwater inspections is being hampered by river levels and the speed of flow of the water which does not yet allow safe access in many locations. It is not possible at this time to confirm when the priority diving inspections will take place but every effort is being made to complete these as soon as it is safe to do so.

Planning is well underway of a countywide programme of bridge replacements and repairs, including the option to provide temporary crossings where appropriate. This will be undertaken on a priority basis. The council will be bringing in additional resources to make this happen. At this stage it is too early to confirm dates for permanent repair. For each critical structure (eg Pooley Bridge) appraisals will be carried out to determine what the options are. This will include consideration of impacts on the community and local economy along with a programme for a permanent solution.

In terms of roads, over 40 remain closed either due to damage to the carriageway or because of bridge closures. This includes both the A686 at Langwathby and A591 along Thirlmere.

At the A686 contractors working for the county council are on site and progressing well with repair works. We are confident the road will re-open no later than early in the New Year. An opening before Christmas may be possible if works continue to proceed as well as they have to date.

On the A591 hundreds of tonnes of debris have been cleared by county council and military personnel over the weekend. Visual inspections have been undertaken and structural assessments, including ground investigations, have now started. The results of these assessments are needed before we can be confident about the timescale for repairing the road.

We are also assessing options for temporary measures which could allow people to travel past the damaged sections of road and reconnect the north and south ends. These are being developed as a matter of urgency and more detail will be available once their feasibility has been established.

In addition to work on these two roads, a large repair programme for the entire roads network is being developed. Work on these roads will be prioritised according to severity and impact.

Already the council has completed temporary repairs on the A592 enabling the communities of Patterdale and Glenridding to be reconnected. Permanent repairs are now being designed.

Where diversions have been put in place due to closures, traffic is being closely monitored and further changes will be implemented to minimise disruption. Measures may include alteration of traffic signal timings, permanent signage and road layout. We are also in the process of improving signage to direct HGVs away from small rural roads.

Some short term road closures are being implemented to assist in the clearance of flood damaged materials from residences.

Keith Little, Cabinet for Highways and Infrastructure, said:

“There is a massive amount of work to do to get the network fully open and we are working flat out to get that work done. We absolutely understand the impact of this disruption to the public and businesses and it is an absolute priority in the county’s recovery work. In Carlisle we have to get divers in to assess the bridge underwater and that’ll happen as soon as they feel it is safe to do so, they are highly experienced and doing a very dangerous job so they have to be confident it’s safe. On the A686 repairs are progressing well and I hope that will reopen soon. On the A591 the scale of repair needed is far more significant and we’re doing detailed assessments now. We’re also urgently looking at temporary options to reconnect the route; but I need to be certain we can deliver these safely before we confirm our plans. There is no complacency here and we will bring in extra resources as required to get Cumbria’s road network fully-functional as quickly as possible.

The county council’s highways teams continue to pull out all the stops to get Cumbria moving again.