Victoria Bridge in Kendal remains closed due to scour damage to the east bridge pier sustained during recent heavy rainfall (July 20 and 21). The bridge will re-open as soon as it is safe to do so, but the works are dependent on dry weather conditions and low river levels. Teams have been working 12 hour shifts during the last week to carry out extensive repair works to the east pier and abutment.
This is a complex task – the bridge is over 150 years old and suffered significant damage during Storm Desmond. Dive teams and bridge engineers have placed 16 tonnes of grout bags around the damaged pier, with a further 6-8 tonnes remaining – this will be placed throughout this week.
Rock rolls – a robust and permanent supporting barrier – will be interlaced along the full length of the bridge abutment and placed in front of the grout bags to offer additional protection. Then 700 tonnes of ‘rip-rap’ (rock armour) will be placed immediately in front of the rock rolls.
Whilst teams are working all daylight hours to get the bridge re-opened as quickly as possible, they are also at the mercy of the weather. Further heavy rain is forecast throughout this week – this may increase the river level and delay works, but teams will remain onsite throughout until river levels drop.
Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We do fully understand and sympathise with the frustration and disruption caused by this closure, particularly for local businesses. However, these works are essential to maintaining Victoria Bridge and ensuring it is safe to use by vehicles and pedestrians – public safety must always be our top priority.
“I am grateful to the local community for their understanding and patience, and to the divers and contractors working around the clock to get the job done. Please bear in mind that the teams working on site are carrying out a technical and complex project, which is dependent on clear and dry weather conditions and low river levels, whilst working in a challenging environment.”
The final stage prior to re-opening the bridge will be a load test – this consists of placing a load of a known mass on a fixed point of the structure and recording any movement.
The ongoing permanent repairs – which do not require a road closure – were scheduled to be completed before the end of September. The work now being undertaken as a result of the additional damage means a further 2 – 3 week delay to this timeline, and we expect to fully complete permanent repairs by the middle of October.