Work on resurfacing the deck of the Tamar Bridge will begin on Tuesday, 1st June 2021. Traffic management arrangements will be put in place overnight on Tuesday, 1st June 2021 to enable work on Phase 1 of the project to begin on Wednesday 2nd June 2021. This work will begin after 8pm on 1st June 2021, after the evening rush hour has finished, to avoid disruption to traffic. The free bus services will also begin operating on the evening of 1st June 2021.
Resurfacing the steel bridge deck involves a series of highly complex procedures. These include first removing the majority of the existing surface material using a road planer. A paint ‘primer’ is then applied to the deck followed by a two layer water proofing system to provide vital corrosion protection to the steel deck plates. Two thin layers of the surfacing material are then applied before the final process of laying the road markings and installing the replacement illuminated road stud system is carried out.
The need to carry out the majority of these works during dry and mild weather means that we cannot move the project to the winter months. It is not possible to carry out the works solely at night as the lanes cannot be re-opened to traffic until the resurfacing has been completed. Working at night also introduces other issues, such as worker safety and noise. Using heavy plant and machinery at night would have a major impact on the lives of the people close to the bridge.
Patching repairs are also difficult to carry out on steel bridge decks and would not be as durable as full resurfacing. Adopting this approach would require more frequent repairs to be carried out, leading to closures of lanes over a longer period, and increasing the potential disruption to bridge users.
The resurfacing work is being carried out by VolkerLaser, a specialist civil engineering contractor with extensive experience of working on bridges. It will be overseen by Tamar Crossing’s Engineering Manager Richard Cole.
Three traffic lanes will be kept open throughout the works to help minimise disruption to bridge users, with the south cantilever used as an additional traffic lane when necessary. This means that the south cantilever will be closed to pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooter users from approximately 8pm on the evening of 1 June for the duration of the works. As with the kerb replacement project, free bus services will be provided to enable these groups to cross the bridge. Local traffic from Saltash will be diverted from the north cantilever onto the main deck of the bridge.
The complex resurfacing project is expected to take approximately six months to complete, with all three lanes on the main deck and both the north and south cantilevers being resurfaced. As well as resurfacing the bridge deck, Tamar Crossings are also taking the opportunity to resurface the toll plaza area and the bridge approaches, and will be replacing all six of the bridge expansion / movement joints.
Phase 1 is currently programmed to last until end of July. The North cantilever will then be returned as a general traffic lane for the remainder of the project. At the same time South cantilever will be opened to westbound traffic.
The complete project is due to be finished in Autumn 2021, when all the lanes will be re-opened to traffic.
We are providing a free shuttle bus service to transport pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters across the bridge. These include a minibus and trailer service and a scheduled service using single and double-decker buses which is being run in partnership with Plymouth Citybus. This bus service will enable cyclists to remain with their bikes during the journey across the bridge.
The bus service will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the minibus service will run during the day seven days a week. Both services will begin operating on the evening of Tuesday 1 June and will then continue until the works are completed.
The minibus service will run as an ‘on-demand’ service where customers will be able to contact minibus drivers via call-points located at both Pemros Road and North Road. Minibuses will be equipped with cycle and mobility scooter (up to Class 3) trailers.
The Citybus service will run every 15 minutes between 6 am and 9pm and every 30 mins in the evenings and overnight between the Saltash and Plymouth sides of the crossing. Details of the latest service information will be published on the Plymouth Citybus website, with updates on their social media channels.
Using these 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.
We will be reviewing both services throughout the programme of works and will make adjustments if necessary.
While cyclists are legally permitted to use the bridge traffic lanes, the opening of the south cantilever nearly twenty years ago was intended to provide them with a safer alternative for crossing the bridge. In offering these 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 these works.
While the crossing will remain open throughout the works, the traffic management arrangements and lane restrictions mean that drivers of ‘abnormal loads’ may be restricted during certain phases of the project. Abnormal load restrictions will be shared with hauliers via ESDAL2 and advanced warning signs will be placed at key locations on the A38 and the local traffic network, as well as on the main motorway junctions. Full details will be placed on the Tamar Crossings website which will also include a suggested diversion route for wide vehicles.
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.
Regular updates on the project will be posted on the Tamar Crossings website and social media channels, and provided to motoring organisations and the local media.
We are, of course ,very conscious of the importance of the Tamar Bridge as a vital transport link between Cornwall and Devon. This is a major once in 20-25 years scheme which is essential for the safety of bridge users and in ensuring a long service life for the structure.
We will be working closely with contractors and partners to deliver the resurfacing project safely, efficiently and with as little disruption to bridge users as possible.