EXCITING times as a £4m project to replace a key piece of Workington's transport infrastructure gets underway.

The Great North Rail Project announced this weekend that they had demolished the old Siddick Bridge to provide better access for the thousands of vehicles which transport 500,000 tonnes of cargo to and from the Port of Workington each year.

The work is being carried out by Cumbrian firm Story Contracting.

The investment means that traffic would again be able to go in both directions after it parlous state meant it was reduced to a single carriageway.

The work includes a new pre-cast concrete bridge deck being installed and a new pedestrian and service bridge to the north.

It is hoped that work will be completed by June 7.

MP for Workington, Mark Jenkinson said: "Yes they are really exciting times because the bridge is a really important means of access to the port."

He added that the project dovetailed with plans to make the port a logistics and clean energy hub as part of the multi-million plans in the Town Deal.

He also said it was vital to help open "huge tracts of employment land at Oldside and the port".

Allerdale Independent councillor Will Wilkinson, who represents St Michaels Ward on the borough council, said: "Anything that improves infrastructure gives people the feel good factor and there is a lot more going on.

"The bridge was unfit for purpose especially with the amount of heavy haulage that was going over it."

Councillor Keith Little, county council cabinet member for Highways and Transport said: "It is a vital link into the Port of Workington and we've been have difficulties for three of four years."

The council runs the port and has been liaising with Network Rail over the project.