Highways England give us an insight into the week night Orwell Bridge inspections ending on October 7
PUBLISHED: 16:56 21 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:20 27 September 2017
Members of the media were invited to a meeting at Orwell Bridge on Wednesday, September 20, to witness the ongoing inspections by Highways England.
The closure of a section of the A14 that began on Monday, September 18, is part of the ongoing detailed inspections of the 35-year-old bridge that will take three weeks of overnight closures to complete between 9pm and 5am, and is expected to run until Saturday, October 7.
During peak times, up to 60,000 drivers use the bridge each day, which makes the inspections by the highway authority very important to ensure it remains in a good condition and able them to plan for any future maintenance.
The maintenance began last month to the underside of the bridge, where the engineers abseiled and used drones to complete their thorough inspections. Andy Shilliday, service delivery manager for Highways England, said: “It’s part of Highways England’s routine maintenance strategy for all structures, they have a two-yearly general inspection, a six-yearly principal inspection, and this is the six-year principal inspection on the Orwell Bridge.
“This part of it actually goes underneath the structure, and with the equipment used, we do need to close the bridge.
“We have tried to plan it as best as we can to keep the disruption down to the bare minimum.”
The busy road will be closed from both directions between junction 55 at Copdock, and junction 58 at Seven Hills on week nights, and there will be fully signed diversions via north Ipswich.
Highways England are making the best use out of the road closures during the inspections, by undergoing resurfacing works and clearing the gulley and drainage. Simon Stokes, an engineer working on the bridge, said: “If something went wrong with the bridge and you had to shut that main arterial route, everything would go through Ipswich. You would be looking at a long-term scheme of up to six months.
“What we are doing here is prevention. It is necessary maintenance, and essential maintenance that must go on to keep the bridge healthy.”
The dates for the inspections are subject to changes due to weather and other conditions, including the resident nesting peregrine falcons which are at the end of their nesting season.