We are carrying out a £3.8 million scheme to renew part of the bridge deck waterproofing system on the Bridge. The last inspection identified that the deck waterproofing and steel fixings holding the units in place were nearing the end of their serviceable life and needed replacing. These works are essential to prevent the steel bridge deck from corroding and to ensure the continued safety of those crossing the bridge.
What does the scheme involve?
This is a very complex scheme which comprises:
• Removal of approximately 7,200 kerb units
• Removal of approximately 28,800 steel kerb fixings
• Cleaning, shot blasting and preparing steel deck plates
• Installing new stainless steel kerb fixings
• Applying new bridge deck waterproofing system
• Re-installing kerb units
Work on the scheme began in Spring 2019 and was originally expected to take up to 12 months to complete. However the impact of the Covid 19 restrictions, some technical issues and extended periods of poor weather mean that the current completion date is now November 2020.
The scheme is being carried out in four phases with the aim of keeping four lanes of traffic running throughout the works.
Work on the first phase ( the south cantilever) was completed in April 2020. The second phase was due to take place on the main deck of the bridge. However as this would have meant diverting westbound traffic heading for Saltash on to the south cantilever, the phasing was re-programmed to the north cantilever. This has enabled us to keep the bridge running and minimise delays for motorists at the same time as continuing to carry out these essential engineering works while following the Government guidance on social distancing. It also meant that pedestrians and cyclists could continue to use the footpath and cycle lane.
With the second phase of the scheme due to be completed on 2 August , the work is now moving to the final two phases on the westbound and eastbound lanes on the main deck.
Subject to good weather this work is scheduled to take around 12 weeks to complete, with all lanes then being re opened to traffic.
As this will temporarily reduce the number of lanes on the main deck from three to two, we are introducing some new traffic management arrangements to keep the bridge operating as smoothly as possible at the same time as ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, mobility scooters, and engineering staff.
Why are you doing these works now?
The last inspection of the bridge identified that the deck waterproofing and steel fixings holding the units in place were nearing the end of their serviceable life and needed replacing. These works are essential to prevent the steel bridge deck from corroding and to ensure the continued safety of those crossing the bridge.
After detailed consideration of the latest Government advice it has been decided to continue with the next phase of the project to ensure that this vital scheme is completed as quickly as possible. This means moving the works onto the main deck.
While we recognise that the closure of one of the lanes on the main deck will inevitably have an impact on local traffic, the current levels of traffic are still well below the normal levels for this time of year. This will help to moderate any delays.
Continuing with the project will also help provide employment for local workers and generate income for local suppliers, as well as avoiding any potential financial costs from delaying the contract.
Will you be closing traffic lanes during the works?
We recognise the importance of the Tamar Bridge as a vital transport link between Cornwall and Devon. We want to keep the bridge operating as smoothly as possible at the same time as ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, mobility scooters, and engineering staff. This means working with partners to keep four traffic lanes open at all times.
While the completion of the second phase will enable us to re-open the north cantilever to traffic, moving the works to the main deck will means temporarily reducing the number of lanes on the main deck from three to two.
To enable us to continue to provide four lanes of traffic we need to use the south cantilever for westbound traffic which would previously have been using one of the lanes on the main deck. This means closing the south cantilever lane to pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters and re-instating the free shuttle bus service.
We are also working with Plymouth Citybus to run an additional scheduled bus service between the Saltash and Plymouth sides of the crossing.
How will pedestrians and cyclists cross the bridge while this phase of the works are being carried out?
During the previous closure of the south cantilever we ran a free shuttle bus service 24 hours a day, seven days a week . This operated every 15 minutes throughout the day and every 20 mins during the night between the Tamar Bridge car park and Fore Street in Saltash.
Having reviewed the operation of the shuttle bus during the previous closure of the south cantilever and analysed the feedback from service users, we have introduced a number of changes to make it easier and more efficient to use the service while, at the same time, ensuring that it meets the latest Government guidance.
This means that, as well as re-introducing the free shuttle bus service 24 hours a day, seven days a week as previously, we are working with Plymouth Citybus to run an additional free scheduled bus service between the Saltash and Plymouth sides of the crossing.
The aim of the new service, which provides two additional buses during the day and one bus during the evening and overnight is to enable pedestrians to cross the bridge and maintain social distancing, while also providing space inside the buses for class 1 and 2 mobility scooters and a small number of bicycles.
The buses will run every 15 minutes between 06:00-19:00hrs during the day and every 30 minutes in the evenings and overnight.
Details of the latest service information will be published on the Plymouth Citybus website, with updates on their social media channels. The service will also be supported by Plymouth Citybus’s Customer Experience Team who will be on hand to answer any public enquiries and advise of any service updates.
We will be reviewing both services throughout the programme of works on the main deck and will make adjustments if necessary.
Do cyclists have to use the bus services ?
While cyclists are legally permitted to use the bridge traffic lanes, the opening of the south cantilever was intended to provide them with a safer alternative for crossing the bridge.
In offering the free shuttle bus services we are doing our best to replicate the improved safety provided by the south cantilever and so, for this reason, we would strongly encourage cyclists to use this option during this phase of the kerb replacement works.
Both shuttle bus services will enable cyclists to avoid cycling through the heavy traffic on the bridge during morning and evening commutes as well as reducing the interface between user groups.
The addition of the Plymouth Citybus option will result in a doubling of the previous shuttle service, with four buses being available to transport cyclists, pedestrians and mobility scooter users across the bridge throughout the day.
As the Plymouth Citybus service is using double decker vehicles, cyclists will be able to remain with their bikes during the journey across the bridge. We hope that this change, introduced following feedback from cyclists, will encourage more cyclists to use the new service. Cyclists can also continue to use the previous minibus service which provides a trailer to transport bikes.
We are also using signs in Saltash and at both ends of the bridge to encourage cyclists to use the free shuttle bus services.
Are pedestrians allowed to walk across the main deck of the bridge ?
No – there are no pavements on the main deck of the bridge and it is illegal for people to walk across the bridge. Pedestrians can use one of the two shuttle bus services while the south cantilever is being used for vehicles.
Will pedestrians, mobility scooter users and cyclists using the buses need to wear face coverings?
Yes . In line with current Government advice on travelling on public transport, people using both the shuttle buses and the Plymouth Citybus service will be required to wear face coverings unless they have a specific exemption.
Are the bus services Covid secure?
We have worked closely with our health and safety team and the bus operators to ensure that the services meet the Government’s guidance and are Covid secure. Social distancing requirements will be in place in both the shuttle bus and the Plymouth Citybus service, and passengers will be required to wear face coverings in line with Government guidance.
Who is paying for the scheme?
The scheme is being funded by the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee through the tolls paid by people using the bridge and ferry crossings.
How long will the scheme take?
Preliminary works began on 1 April 2019. The scheme is being carried out in four phases and is expected to be completed by November 2020.
Why can’t you do the works at night?
While we want to minimise disruption to users, we are aware of the potential impact of night working on our neighbours and residents living below the bridge and so will be carrying out the majority of the works between 7.30 am and 7.00 pm from Monday to Saturday. There may be a limited number of overnight restrictions to enable changes to traffic management layouts between the different phases but we will publicise these in advance.
Why can’t you open the lanes being worked on when necessary to alleviate heavy congestion or allow emergency vehicles to cross?
Along with the parapets, the kerbs form part of the vehicle restraint system. Without the kerbs in place the vehicle restraint system does not meet the required containment classification for the class or speed limit of the road. Because of this, vehicles cannot use the lane once work has started on the kerb removal. Additionally, the contractor needs to have dedicated work areas for safety and to enable access onto the bridge for labour, plant, equipment and materials and it would be too time consuming to keep moving these on and off the bridge – adding to the overall cost, duration and disruption. In planning the works we have had to find an appropriate balance of these three factors.
How will the shuttle minibus bus be able to safely transport my bicycle or mobility scooter and stop it being damaged? Will the service be insured?
A contractor has been engaged to provide and run the minibus service. They will be appropriately experienced and trained and with suitable levels insurance. The minibuses will be operated in accordance with ROSPA Minibus Safety Code of Practice and ROSPA Minibus Driver’s Handbook. The contractor will use specific trailers to carry the bicycles and an appropriate trailer to transport mobility scooters. We have made it clear in the contract that loading and unloading of each bicycle will be carried out by the rider/cyclist and where required reasonable assistance will be provided by the driver. It will be the cyclist’s responsibility to ensure that the bike is secure. The minibus driver will be responsible for loading and unloading mobility scooters, under the guidance of the user/driver.
Who do I contact if the shuttle service is late or doesn’t turn up?
We will provide a telephone number to call at the pick-up/drop-off locations if you are concerned about the minibus service. However, please remember that the drivers may not be able to answer the telephone immediately if they are driving.
Details of the latest service information is being published on the Plymouth Citybus website, with updates on their social media channels. The service is also being supported by Plymouth Citybus’s Customer Experience Team who are on hand to answer any public enquiries and advise of any service updates.
What is happening at the Toll Plaza?
We have upgraded the toll system to make the system easier and quicker for service users. These improvements include the introduction of contactless payments.
What is happening with the planned resurfacing works?
The re-programming of the kerb replacement scheme means that the resurfacing works on the main deck will now take place in 2021.