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Tamar Bridge (Devon)

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The bridge over the River Tamar.

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      30.04.2002 07:28
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      I have used the tamar bridge to cross over from Cornwall to Devon for over a year now so I think I have a good first hand knowledge of the different stages the project to strengthen the bridge took. Read, comment and enjoy....... The Strengthening Of The Tamar Bridge The Background The construction of the original Tamar bridge, which cost over £1.5 million, began in 1959 to provide a vital link between Plymouth and Saltash. Until this time commuters had to use ferries at either side that had limited capacity. Following the government's refusal to fund the project, Devon and Cornwall Councils joined forces and gained Royal Assent in 1957 to operate their own toll bridge. In 1961, 4000 vehicles per day passed over the bridge, which had a weight limit of 17 tonnes. By 1999 this had increased to 40,000 per day. _____________________________________________ The Project The strengthening of the Tamar Bridge, which provides a vital link between Devon and Cornwall, began in 1999, after it was found to be unable to satisfy a directive set down by the European Commission in the early 1990's. The directive stated that all bridges in the UK must be capable of carrying 40 tonne vehicles. Funding for the project to strengthen the bridge, which the people of Cornwall and Plymouth jointly own, came from capital raised by tolls taken on the bridge. The forming of a partnership between the owning authorities, Cornwall County Council and Plymouth City Council, with Hyder engineering consultants and Cleveland Bridge, was unique for an engineering project. This open partnership allowed personnel from any of the partners to carry out a task based on their individual qualifications and experience, rather than the usual way of companies only using their own personnel. The project was completed with only one months delay, which was mainly due to extreme weather conditions and the road works emb
      argo imposed at the time of the eclipse in 1999. The success of the partnership can be seen when compared with other bridge strengthening projects that have overrun by months and sometimes years. 82 steel panels were constructed to replace the existing concrete deck. Each panel weighed 20 tonnes, was 15 metres in length and 6 metres wide. They were constructed by Cleveland Bridge at their Darlington base, before being driven 400 miles to the bridge where they were welded together on-site. A local haulage firm recycled the old concrete deck to form a new road to their premises. This reuse of material was repeated in the invention of 6,000 special kerbside units made from recycled plastic milk bottles that were placed along the length of the bridge to aid drainage. The problem of how to carry out the work without closing the bridge gave birth to an idea from one of the engineers, which was to add two temporary cantilever lanes off the sides of the main deck. A decision was later made to make these lanes permanent, as it meant traffic flow could be increased on the main deck. Whilst the southbound lane could be used to keep pedestrians separate from the traffic, the northbound lane could be designated for local traffic only. This eliminated one of Cornwall's biggest accident black spots, where the local traffic used to have to merge dangerously with the bridge traffic. The bridge can now carry juggernauts with weights up to 295 tonnes; this improvement in its capabilities will benefit Cornwall and the surrounding area economically by encouraging businesses to locate within the area and boost those that already exist. Visit the official website to find out more and view the progress pictures. Oh and by the way the £1 is the charge for crossing from Cornwall to Devon (its free the other way).

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