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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

Engineers preparing to abseil over the edge during the weeknight maintenance on the Orwell Bridge. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Engineers preparing to abseil over the edge during the weeknight maintenance on the Orwell Bridge. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Pavel.Kricka@btinternet.com

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 over under inspection gantry. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA The over under inspection gantry. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

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.

Work is beginning on the resurfacing of the road, which Highways England is completing to avoid future disruptions on the bridge. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Work is beginning on the resurfacing of the road, which Highways England is completing to avoid future disruptions on the bridge. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

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.

Empty lorries are queuing for the planer, waiting for the waste from the reduction of the current road surface to 50mm. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Empty lorries are queuing for the planer, waiting for the waste from the reduction of the current road surface to 50mm. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

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 dance between the waste lorry and the planer to ensure that the lorry is loaded evenly. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA The dance between the waste lorry and the planer to ensure that the lorry is loaded evenly. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

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.

Engineers are changing the teeth on the planer, to continue reducing the road surface to 50mm. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Engineers are changing the teeth on the planer, to continue reducing the road surface to 50mm. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Replacing the worn teeth on the planer during the resurfacing of the road. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Replacing the worn teeth on the planer during the resurfacing of the road. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

An engineer on the under bridge inspection gantry. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA An engineer on the under bridge inspection gantry. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Thomas Cambell, one of the engineers on the over under gantry that inspects the under side of the bridge, enjoying a drink during the overnight inspections. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Thomas Cambell, one of the engineers on the over under gantry that inspects the under side of the bridge, enjoying a drink during the overnight inspections. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Drivers are being warned the Orwell Bridge is likely to shut tonight until tomorrow morning due to forecast high winds.

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