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The Reconstruction of Whitchurch Bridge
(updated 22nd January 2014)
Whitchurch Bridge, built in 1902, has come to the end of its useful life and is currently being reconstructed. The Company intends to retain the existing appearance of the Bridge. The reconstruction will involve the installation of new piers (ie the vertical columns secured in the river bed) supporting new, load-bearing longitudinal girders under the roadway. The existing piers will remain in place but become non-loadbearing, and the existing pier capitals and latticework side girders will be taken away for refurbishment and then put back as key visual elements. The width of the Bridge will not be increased, and the headroom and width of the four river channels will not be reduced.
Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is managing the reconstruction project on behalf of the Company. Architectural design was undertaken by Jacobs, with detailed engineering design and tender documentation delivered by Atkins UK. The main contractor is Balfour Beatty - the separate identity of Birse Civils Ltd, the division of the Balfour Beatty group to which the contract was awarded, is being phased out. Contract supervision on behalf of the Company is by Atkins UK.
The reconstruction contract is being managed within the framework of the "NEC Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC), 3rd edition (June 2005), Option C - Target Contract with Activity Schedule". Guidance Notes on the NEC3 model are available here.
In accordance with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 a CDM Co-ordinator has been appointed who is advising the Company (as Employer) on all aspects of its responsibilities for health and safety risk management matters.
The works, being a major reconstruction of the Bridge, will have to comply with the current mandatory European Structural Design Codes (Eurocodes). The total cost of the reconstruction Project is estimated at £4.3 million including VAT: some of this has already been spent.
Although the reconstructed Bridge will be strong enough for 44 tonnes vehicles, the Company is at one with local residents in wishing to retain a 7.5 tonne weight restriction on the Bridge after it has been reconstructed, and has agreed with OCC (as Highways authority) that an enforceable 7.5 tonnes mgw weight limit can be retained on the Bridge following its reconstruction.
On 27th January 2014 the Company issued a Statement announcing that the re-opening of the Bridge would be delayed due to issues to do with the demolition of the old Bridge (see FAQ 2.9), and the adverse river conditions in January 2014 (see FAQ 2.10). Key dates are now:
Monday 31st March 2014
Bridge re-opens for river traffic.
|July 2014 - exact date to be announced later||Bridge re-opens for all road traffic, and temporary footbridge closes.|
|August 2014 - exact date to be announced later||All works completed, contractor compounds removed, ground reinstated and reseeded. All reinstatement works will be managed until established to the satisfaction of the landowner.|
Balfour Beatty, as main contractor, is responsible for delivering the project. The Whitchurch Bridge Company will continue to press Balfour Beatty to complete the works as soon as possible, and the Company's project management team will continue to work collaboratively with Balfour Beatty to evaluate all opportunities for saving time: for example, detailed design changes to the deck and the deck formwork may enable the deck concrete pouring to be completed more quickly. Other value engineering opportunities have been identified and those that can offer gains are being developed.
In addition, the project plan is being changed so that work around the navigation channel (the second span from the Whitchurch end) is done first, and can be started as soon as it is safe to do so. Detailed plans are being drawn up by Balfour Beatty to enable the works to continue beyond 31st March (when the navigation channel is due to re-open) and to be completed as soon as possible whilst satisfying the Environment Agency on river navigation needs. We expect to make an announcement on these plans, which will include an update to the expected Bridge re-opening date, during w/c Monday 10th March.
Balfour Beatty has issued a statement as follows:
"Balfour Beatty is totally committed to carrying out the reconstruction of Whitchurch Bridge as quickly as possible for the Whitchurch Bridge Company and residents of Berkshire and Oxfordshire. We have been faced with unprecedented river conditions during this project and unfortunately it has been unsafe to carry out works on the river since before Christmas. We have been urgently looking at alternative ways of working should the flooding continue, consulting with all interested parties, and we will complete this project as soon as safely possible."
Works are currently suspended due to the adverse river conditions (see FAQ 2.10). There is currently no estimate as to when it will be safe for works to resume, but when they do the programmes is as shown below, concentrating first on the works around the navigation channel (the second span from the Whitchurch end). Marine services are provided by Red7Marine of Colchester, and demolition works are by Matthews Ltd of Crawley.
Ongoing archaeological recording and investigation by Oxford Archaeology of Oxford in accordance with Planning conditions
Jack arches (ie the metal underside of the Bridge deck) cut into sections, lifted out and taken away for recycling.
All 8 side girders lifted out to be taken away, via the compound and road transport, to Coastground Ltd of Great Yarmouth for refurbishment and prepared for re-use.
Removal of all 6 pier capitals to be taken away for refurbishment and prepared for re-use (as non load-bearing visual elements) by Metalock Ltd of Coventry
Demolition of southern abutment (it needs strengthening)
Installation of 6 new piles for new southern abutment by Foundation Piling Ltd of Chesham
Off-site fabrication of new steelwork by Mabey Bridge of Chepstow
All works are carried out in accordance with approved method statements and risk assessments.
a time-lapse photographic record of the works for the last month is here (all pictures, including those now offline, will be permanently stored for record purposes).
photographs of the works are here
The following documents give detailed information about various aspects of the reconstruction work: all are subject to amendment.
Details of Temporary Footbridge (updated 2nd September 2013)
Construction Sequence (the actual construction sequence to be used by Balfour Beatty may vary in detail)
Construction Management Plan (as submitted with the Planning Applications. The actual construction method to be used by Balfour Beatty will differ from this: the most significant difference is that the refurbishment of the side girders will be carried out off-site and not on the river meadow).
Revised 142 Bus Service Timetable (final version)
Ongoing Traffic Survey - we are co-operating with a University of the West of England research project looking at how and why people travel and the effect that disruption has on their daily lives - more details at www.disruptionproject.net (you may get a false virus warning message if you use AVG). Bridge users may participate in their online survey.
Planning Permission for the reconstruction of Whitchurch Bridge was resolved to be granted by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) on 16th November 2011, and by West Berkshire Council (WBC) on 7th December 2011.
A S106 Planning Agreement has been completed with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) formalising the Company's undertaking to pay for necessary changes to the route 142 bus service which passes over the Bridge. SODC issued its Decision Notices on 31st May 2012.
A S106 Planning Agreement has been completed with West Berkshire Council (WBC) formalising the Company's undertaking to pay for necessary adjustments to the A329/B4009 traffic lights in Streatley to help deal with the increased traffic flows from diverted traffic, and also for other necessary measures such as local parking restrictions. West Berkshire Council issued its Decision Notices on 7th March 2012.
Planning Conditions - Traffic Survey
The Company carried out a traffic survey in March 2013 to fulfil a Planning condition from WBC - the survey Report is here.
Details of the Planning Application process which led up to the granting of Planning Permission are as follows:
1. Because of its location, the reconstruction of Whitchurch Bridge involves two Planning authorities, South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) and West Berkshire Council (WBC). SODC acts as "lead" Planning Authority. The Planning authorities will monitor the reconstruction work to ensure compliance with Planning requirements and conditions.
2. The Company appointed the Temple Group to manage its inputs to the Planning Application process, and Planning Applications were submitted to SODC and WBC on 3rd May 2011 as follows:
Planning and Listed Building Applications to SODC and WBC for the main works of reconstruction and alterations to the Bridge,
Planning Applications to SODC and WBC for the temporary footbridge to provide for continued access across the river during the reconstruction,
a Planning Application to WBC, copied for information to SODC, for the temporary construction compound on Pangbourne River Meadow,
written notification to SODC, copied to WBC for information, of proposed works to trees within the Whitchurch Conservation Area.
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