On the Morning of Monday 31st October 2016, an inspection barge glided slowly into place beneath Marlow Bridge so engineers can undertake the final stage of structural engineering tests.
Commissioned by Buckinghamshire County Council, engineers have been running stress tests on the suspension bridge since a 37-tonne Lithuanian lorry tried to cross it on Saturday 24th September 2016.
The specialist barge has a hydraulic hoist on board to allow ultrasound and magnetic particle tests to continue below the road deck during the coming fortnight.
The engineers will remove decades of paint layers from the metalwork to expose bare metal for these tests. Before tests started on Monday 31st October 2016 the engineers worked with the Environment Agency to set up a safety exclusion zone around the barge.
Watching the barge move up river was Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw, who welcomed the progress being made with the testing regime.
The analysis report should be completed around the middle of November 2016. If this recommends replacing sections of the bridge, specially manufactured parts could take up to 12 weeks to make and a further eight weeks to install.
‘I’m very grateful for the utmost care our engineers have taken with their tests, which I know is exactly what people would expect of us,‘ said Mark who added ‘This bridge is special to Marlow and Bisham, and residents I spoke to as we watched the barge move into position appreciated the measures we’ve taken to ensure no further damage is caused.
We’re nearing the final analysis report, and as soon as we’re able, we want to get repairs under way to make the bridge safe and secure for vehicles.‘
Mark said loss adjusters from the Lithuanian transport company’s insurers had been in contact and would cover the cost of repairs.
The bridge remains open to pedestrians and cyclists while the engineers conduct the tests.