Lowestoft residents are being advised that the Gull Wing contractor, Farrans, has applied for an extension of the closure of Denmark Road to allow for the completion of the highways works on the northern side of Lake Lothing.
The road closure is now expected to be in place until the end of October as the building of the new northern roundabout and approach road to the bridge, including new drainage, attenuation ponds, and utilities works, are taking longer than previously estimated.
Construction of the bridge itself continues to make good progress, with seven of the bridge’s eight spans already lifted into place. The concreting of the bridge deck slabs is well underway on both sides of Lake Lothing, and the new control room at the top of the control tower is under construction. The plant room building is also currently being fitted out with the power supply, hydraulic pumps, communications equipment, and other building services.
The main bascule span is expected to be installed in the new year, pending agreement with Associated British Ports, during which time it’s expected the navigation channel will be closed for three weeks. The giant ‘J’ beams and bridge deck are currently being fabricated and assembled in Belgium and the Netherlands and will arrive by sea. The installation and commissioning of the bascule span will form the final and most complex major element of this unique and challenging project.
Once completed, there will be a short period of time for final commissioning and for staff to be trained in the operating of the bridge before it can safely be opened to the public in 2024.
Simon Bretherton, Suffolk County Council Project Director, said:
“The Gull Wing Bridge would be a complex and challenging infrastructure project at the best of times, to say nothing of the challenges of COVID and the global supply issues we have faced in the past few years.
“We apologise for the short-term disruption this road closure extension may cause, and we are grateful to residents for their continued patience and understanding. We will continue to work with our contractor, Farrans, to complete the remaining works as quickly as we can. Although there will continue to be some disruption in the short term, the long-term benefits of the new bridge will be felt for many decades to come.
“Residents can see for themselves the substantial progress made during the past few months as the local skyline is punctuated by the new structure, and the scale of this project becomes more apparent each day. Significant risks and challenges do remain, particularly with the installation, testing and commissioning of the moving bascule span. A clearer view of the timetable for its completion and opening will emerge as we undertake that final major component during a closure of the main navigation channel in the new year.
“We recognise and share the eagerness locally to have the bridge open in order to improve the connection between the north and south of the town, reduce congestion, and attract new trade and businesses to the area. I can assure residents that the teams are working hard to deliver that as soon as possible.”