Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Sunday, 6 December 2009

Flooded Workington's new bridge to open


Timelapse images show how soldiers constructed the footbridge across the River Derwent

A Cumbrian town split in half by floods which demolished two bridges across its river is due to be reunited with the opening of an army-built crossing.

Royal Engineers have worked for a week to construct a temporary footbridge across the River Derwent in Workington.

Residents in the town have faced long detours to reach friends, relatives, shops and schools.

On Monday schoolchildren will be first to cross the 170ft (52m) bridge connecting north and south Workington.

The 110-tonne footbridge was brought to Workington in pieces from a holding base at the Halton Camp in Lancashire.

Soldiers worked around the clock to lay 4,000-tonnes of rock base foundations for the structure.

Soldiers contsructing bridge
A similar bridge was built by soldiers across a canal in Afghanistan

A local police officer was killed when flood waters destroyed two long-standing bridges over the River Derwent last month.

Pc Bill Barker died trying to clear people from one of the bridges in the town which collapsed during the devastating floods.

The town's A597 Northside Bridge and a footbridge collapsed, while the Calva Bridge was left unstable, when the river flooded in the early hours of 20 November.

The only remaining connection between the two sides has been a railway bridge.

Cumbria County Council has put in place traffic restrictions on both sides of the River Derwent ahead of the new bridge opening.

A spokesman said: "The location of the bridge has been chosen at a relatively narrow point of the river where the river banks are structurally sound.

"The bridge will not be open for motor vehicles. It is a pedestrian footbridge which is not designed to sustain vehicles.

"Work is in hand to examine a number of options for a temporary vehicle bridge, but the immediate priority has been to connect communities on the north and south side of the river by the quickest means possible."

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