Visas blamed for delay but bridge work begins in June
Resurfacing work on Tamar Bridge will begin on June 1, contractors have said.
12th May 2021
By Suzanne Cleave
Works to resurface the Tamar Bridge are now due to begin on June 1.
The later start date has been requested by the contractor VolkerLaser to ensure that all its equipment and workforce are in place before work begins on resurfacing the deck, and traffic restrictions are introduced.
Resurfacing the Tamar Bridge is a highly complex project, involving a series of processes which follow on consecutively.
This means that each phase has to be completed before work can begin on the next one.
Unlike bridges which have concrete decks, the Tamar Bridge has an orthotropic steel deck which has to be resurfaced using a specialist asphalt material.
UK-based subcontractors will be carrying out the surface planing, and deck preparation elements of the project, while VolkerLaser will carry out the steel deck repairs and waterproofing works using its own resources.
According to contractors, the bridge deck surfacing operation is highly specialised, and only a very small number of firms around the world are able to lay the type of surfacing material being used on Tamar Bridge.
VolkerLaser has also engaged Swiss company Aeschlimann AG, who carried out the resurfacing of the Plymouth side span of the Tamar Bridge in 2011.
The project was due to start in April, and while the majority of the contractors are in place, issues with visas means that work and travel arrangements for some of the 20 EU-based Aeschlimann staff are still being resolved.
VolkerLaser says it is confident that these issues will be overcome within the next few weeks, but rather than begin work now and risk a period of delay in the middle of the project, awaiting the arrival of the Aeschlimann team, it has been jointly agreed that the start date will move to June 1.
The change in the start of the project means that the works will not now be completed by the end of September as originally agreed.
However, VolkerLaser is committed to ensuring the resurfacing programme is delivered and that all lanes of the bridge will be re-opened before the end of 2021.
Nathan Wakfer from VolkerLaser said: “VolkerLaser is fully committed to completing this important project this year, and we apologise for this unavoidable delay to the commencement of the works.
“Along with our chosen specialist surfacing subcontractor, we are working extremely hard to overcome these new challenges.
“Although works have yet to commence on the bridge, there is a lot of work being carried out off site, including surfacing and waterproofing testing and trials; this will ensure a smooth commencement to on-site works, once the visa issue is resolved.
“We have already mobilised our site set up and this is being left in place ready for works to commence in June.”
A spokesperson for the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee said: “While we are obviously very disappointed with the delay to the original timetable agreed for the works, we recognise the efforts VolkerLaser and Aeschlimann have been making to resolve the visa issues.
“We are working with both companies to ensure that the work starts as quickly as possible and is then completed before the weather deteriorates.
“We will be monitoring the delivery of the programme closely and taking any action necessary to ensure that the deadline for re-opening the bridge is achieved.”