Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

New road crossing for flood town

Destroyed Northside Bridge
Motorists from Workington face a detour of about 18 miles to cross the Derwent

A temporary bridge is to be built in the flood-hit Cumbrian town of Workington, says the government.

The community was effectively split in half in November when unprecedented water levels destroyed Northside Bridge and badly damaged nearby Calva Bridge.

Barker Crossing, an Army-built footbridge named after Pc Bill Barker who was swept to his death, has since helped unite the two sides of the town.

The new road bridge should open by late spring 2010, said the county council.

It is likely to be built at a spot between the Northside and Calva bridges.

At the moment, Workington motorists must cross the River Derwent at Cockermouth's Papcastle Bridge - a detour of about 18 miles.

Pc Bill Barker
Pc Bill Barker was swept away when Northside Bridge collapsed

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said: "We have already funded the temporary footbridge over the Derwent and provided additional investment for train services.

"I'm delighted that the support we have provided has now helped Cumbria County Council to take this important step forward towards the temporary road bridge which will make such a difference to the people of Workington.

"Government funding will allow the bridge to be built as soon as possible and we have agreed to provide further support to help the council ensure the contractors deliver the bridge quickly and effectively."

Bill Barker tragically died in Cumbria...serving the community he was so committed to
Gordon Brown

The bridge, which will have two lanes and be able to support HGVs up to 44 tonnes, will remain in place until a permanent bridge is built.

Plans for such a bridge are under way, but it is like likely to take about two years to plan and build, said a council spokesman.

The Highways Agency is also planning engineering measures to reduce the congestion at Papcastle caused by the increased traffic, he added.

A tender notice to build the temporary bridge will be published later this week, with a 4 January deadline for contractors.

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