The significant improvement works being carried out at Poole Bridge, as part of the major investment in Poole’s infrastructure by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, are continuing.
So far the contractor, Interserve, has demolished the worn out approach spans, abutments and footpaths - the parts of the bridge that carry traffic from the land to the main section of the bridge (the green copper towers which are over 85 years old).
The new Poole abutment has been constructed and the piles for the new piers have been installed. Over half of the repairs to the retained steelwork are finished and the off-site fabrication of the new steel beam supports is nearing completion; the beams will support the new road spans and carry traffic over Backwater Channel. The installation of the new wider walkways around the towers has started and the replacement of the old control system is also underway.
However during the course of the works the contractor has encountered significant underground obstructions such as the remains of previous bridges on the site, unchartered live and abandoned utility cables and parts of buried quay walls. Dealing with some of these obstructions has caused significant delay to the construction of the Hamworthy abutment.
Julian McLaughlin, Head of Growth and Infrastructure, Borough of Poole, said: “This is a difficult and challenging project and although Interserve has achieved a lot since the bridge closed in September, some elements of the project are behind programme.
“Interserve has organised additional resources and is working extra hours to regain as much time as possible. However, these unforeseen issues have caused the re-opening of the bridge to be pushed back from the initial June date to later in the summer. Once the major issues affecting the construction of the Hamworthy abutment are dealt with, we will be able to give a clearer indication of the anticipated re-opening date. In the meantime we are continuing to work with Interserve to facilitate completion in the summer and have taken every opportunity to minimise the impact this will have on people.”
As a result, the temporary bus service arrangements for lower Hamworthy have been extended to the end of July. A revised lifting schedule for Twin Sails Bridge has also been agreed for the period after Easter to reduce the disruption to mariners as far as possible.
Cllr Drew Mellor, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Transportation, Borough of Poole, said: “We are fully committed to ensuring Poole continues to benefit from a two-bridge system to safeguard the future economic growth and employment opportunities in Hamworthy.
“These improvements are part of a much wider co-ordinated programme that will see the A31 to the Port of Poole benefit from significant investment over the next few years.”
Rob Dunford, Interim Dorset LEP Director, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "This project is very important for Poole and for the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership as it will ensure the long term future of the two bridge system and play a vital role in supporting growth in the economy and much needed housing. Projects involving work under water always involve greater levels of complexity and risk and we are happy that Borough of Poole is working hard with the contractor to mitigate the issues encountered and minimise the delay to residents.”