The Gull Wing bridge will not be opening this year, as confirmed by Suffolk County Council.
When Farrans agreed to a £76 million contract in September 2020 for the construction of the Gull Wing bridge, the third crossing over Lake Lothing in Lowestoft, it was anticipated that the bridge would be operational by this summer.
Farrans has now submitted a request to the council for an extension of the road closure period. This extension is necessary to accommodate the completion of the highway works on the northern side of Lake Lothing. The road closure, initially planned for a shorter duration, is now expected to remain in effect until the end of October. Delays have arisen in constructing a new northern roundabout and approach road to the bridge, primarily due to the extended timeline for tasks such as creating a new northern roundabout, approach road, drainage systems, attenuation ponds, and utilities.
Progress is still evident in the construction of the bridge itself, as reported by the council. A majority of the bridge’s eight spans have already been positioned, and the concreting of the bridge deck slabs is advancing on both sides of Lake Lothing. Meanwhile, construction activities are underway for the new control room situated atop the control tower, as well as the ongoing outfitting of the plant room building with essential components like power supply, hydraulic pumps, and communication equipment.
The main bascule span is scheduled for installation in the upcoming year, pending final agreement with Associated British Ports. During this phase, the navigation channel is expected to be closed for approximately three weeks.
The production and assembly of the large ‘J’ beams and bridge deck are taking place in Belgium and the Netherlands, with transportation by sea planned. The installation and commissioning of the bascule span will mark the final and most intricate stage of the project.
Upon the completion of construction, a brief period will be allocated for final commissioning and training staff in the operation of the lifting bascule bridge. Subsequently, the bridge is slated to be accessible to the public in 2024.
The project’s total cost was estimated at £146 million at the commencement of the construction.
Simon Bretherton, the project director at Suffolk County Council, remarked, “The Gull Wing Bridge project would be a demanding endeavor under normal circumstances, not to mention the added challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and global supply chain disruptions over the past years. We apologize for any temporary inconvenience caused by this extension of the road closure and extend our gratitude to the community for their ongoing patience and understanding. Collaborating closely with our contractor, Farrans, we are committed to expediting the remaining tasks. While short-term disruptions may persist, the enduring advantages of the new bridge will be experienced for generations to come.”
He further added, “As we move forward with the final major component involving the closure of the main navigation channel in the new year, a more definite timetable for the project’s completion and opening will become clear.”
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