Investigatory work to fully assess the condition and extent of repairs required on an iconic North East landmark are entering the final stages following Esh Construction’s appointment earlier this year.
Ahead of a major programme of restoration on the Tyne Bridge, specialist engineers have been scaling the entire span of the structure and underside of the bridge deck using rope access. This method allows engineers to provide detailed, hands-on inspections of all structural elements of the bridge by using ropes and rigging, without the need for scaffolding or road closures, minimising the impact on the travelling public.
Esh Construction is delivering the project on behalf of Newcastle and Gateshead councils. Special projects construction manager, Stephen McClean, said: “It is essential that we use a variety of different methods as part of the inspection process to obtain a thorough assessment of the bridge’s condition. This includes rope access, Point Cloud scanning investigation technology and specialist drone surveying.
“We have consciously chosen methods which would minimise the need for traffic management measures, reduce the impact on users and ensure no disturbance to the kittiwakes. We would like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience throughout the project so far.”
Cllr Jane Byrne, cabinet member for a connected city at Newcastle City Council, said “We’re delighted that work is progressing well and pleased that there has been minimal disruption to the travelling public as we carry out this much-needed period of inspections ahead of the major restoration programme.”
Further investigation works will take place on the internal towers, where again engineers will use rope access to assess the concrete walls and structural beams and take concrete samples for testing.
The final stage will be to inspect the bridge arch below from the road deck down to quayside level at both Newcastle and Gateshead ends. This work can only take place once the kittiwakes have departed after the summer season, to minimise disruption to this protected species.
All aspects of the programme are being developed in consultation with wildlife groups.
The remaining work should take around six weeks to complete. A full detailed costing and project plan will then be submitted to government to access the funding for the major restoration works.
The inspection works are a strict condition of government providing £35.3 million as part of a £41.4 million bid to the Department of Transport for restoration of the Tyne Bridge, together with the Central Motorway, which was confirmed on 3 June. As part of this, Newcastle and Gateshead councils are contributing just over £3 million for works to the Tyne Bridge element of the programme.
Once funding is released, Esh Construction, working in partnership with design partner Capita Real estate and infrastructure, will carry out the refurbishment work to the Grade II* listed structure.
It is essential that we use a variety of different methods as part of the inspection process to obtain a thorough assessment of the bridge’s condition. This includes rope access, Point Cloud scanning investigation technology and specialist drone surveying. We have consciously chosen methods which would minimise the need for traffic management measures, reduce the impact on users and ensure no disturbance to the kittiwakes.”