Works to resurface the Tamar Bridge are now due to begin on the 1st June 2021. The later start date has been requested by the contractor VolkerLaser to ensure that all its specialist 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.
VolkerLaser is one of the UK’s leading multi-disciplinary civil engineering contractors, with extensive experience of working on many types of bridge, as well as on complex bridge works. In addition to VolkerLaser’s broad range of in-house skills, the company has engaged specialist subcontractors to carry out specific elements of the work, because of the complexity of this project.
UK-based subcontractors will be carrying out the surface planing, and deck preparation elements of the project, and VolkerLaser will carry out the steel deck repairs and waterproofing works using its own skilled labour resources. However the bridge deck surfacing operation is very highly specialised, and only a very small number of contractors around the world are able to lay the type of surfacing material being used on Tamar Bridge. VolkerLaser has therefore engaged Swiss company, Aeschlimann AG, who carried out the resurfacing of the Plymouth side span of the Tamar Bridge in 2011.
VolkerLaser worked very hard to ensure that all the machinery and specialist contractors were ready for the planned start of the project in mid-April. However, 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 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 Aeshlimann team, it has been jointly agreed that the start date will move to 1 June.
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.
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.
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.