Tamar Bridge resurfacing works - 4 June 2021
Thank you to everyone for your patience during the first week of the resurfacing works.
We recognise that this is a difficult period for our customers, and we are doing everything within our control to minimise the impact of the works. All the toll booths are open during busy periods and we are continuing to monitor traffic flows across the bridge.
Unfortunately a vehicle broke down on the A38 westbound prior to the bridge just after 1pm yesterday afternoon. Although the vehicle was not on the bridge, the breakdown restricted the approach to the bridge, causing some delays to traffic coming into Cornwall. As the incident was on the A38, a Highways England traffic officer was on site, together with the police. The vehicle was recovered just after 4pm, and the lane was then re-opened by Highways England just before 4.30pm.
Volker Laser began planing operations as planned on the south cantilever lane on Wednesday. At the same time preparatory work is continuing on the north cantilever to ensure that it is completed in time for the planing operation to begin unhindered.
This preparatory work has included installing debris netting / containment on parapets, setting out survey points and surveying the existing carriageway and core drilling trial holes to check the thickness of the existing tarmac so that the planer does not damage the steel deck.
The planing operation is expected to take between two and a half and three days per cantilever. We expect the planing operations to begin on the north cantilever during this weekend.
Some people have asked why both cantilevers have been closed at the same time and whether one cantilever can be re-opened to traffic.
The answer is that the closures have been done at the same time to allow for work to be carried out on each lane simultaneously. Working on one cantilever at a time would add an additional 8 weeks to the overall length of the project.
Unfortunately we cannot re-open a lane once the existing surfacing material has been removed as we are unable to run traffic on the lane until the new surface has been laid. Unlike traditional road re-surfacing works, where vehicles can drive on the road while the works are in progress, the planing removes the entire depth of the surface material, exposing the steel deck which is not safe to drive on.
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 contractor is required to maintain a minimum 3 lanes during peak periods throughout the project. This will enable them work most efficiently, particularly when they move on to the main deck works.
We have also received a number of other queries about the programme and the scheduling of the works.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. Further FAQ’s about the resurfacing project are also available on our website.
Unfortunately there is no perfect time to undertake this essential work. We had originally scheduled the works to begin in April, however our contractor VolkerLaser required a later start date to ensure that all its specialist equipment and workforce were in place before work began on resurfacing the deck, and traffic restrictions were introduced.
Postponing the start date to after half term would have inevitably led to concerns about other potential timing issues. Carrying out the resurfacing is essential work that needs to be completed this summer and while we have the highest chances of dry, mild weather.
We recognise that this will be a difficult period for our customers, and we are doing everything within our control to minimise the impact of the works. We are continually monitoring the traffic flows across the bridge and taking action to address any specific issues. We are also ensuring that all toll booths are open during busy periods.
We have kept the emergency services informed throughout the planning of these works to try and minimise the impact on the vital services they deliver.
While it is not possible to offer dedicated emergency routes across the bridge, we do liaise closely with the emergency services at both crossings to try and ensure their passage is as quick as possible. All emergency services are able to call the bridge control room to request assistance should they require it.
Additionally, we would expect other drivers to react by moving aside to provide space when they see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching where possible.
The Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry are funded entirely from the tolls paid by people using the crossings on a “user pays” principle. The crossings do not receive any financial support from either the Government or the parent authorities – Cornwall Council or Plymouth City Council. This means that if tolls are suspended for a period, we would have to charge more later to make up the deficit.
While the original cost of building the Tamar Bridge was repaid many years ago, the tolls are used to meet the costs of the ongoing operation, maintenance and improvement of the two crossings. Information on how the money received by Tamar Crossings is spent is published on the Tamar Crossings website https://www.tamarcrossings.org.uk/about-us/statement-of-accounts/
We will continue to provide regular updates throughout the project to keep people up to date with what is happening.