Contractor Hochtief has held a “turning of the sod” ceremony at Poole’s Twin Sails bridge construction site in Hamworthy to mark the start of work proper.
The ceremony marked the official launch of the 20-month construction phase of the £37M regeneration project that will see Poole’s second harbour crossing open in early 2012.
Hochtief has moved rapidly to begin construction after the Department for Transport (DfT) reconfirmed its £14M funding contribution earlier this month. The DfT first confirmed its grant in March, but the scheme was put under review following the General Election.
Mayor of Poole Chris Bulteel said it was a momentous occasion.
“This marks the start of a hugely important phase in Poole’s history with the construction of our long-awaited second harbour crossing. We will watch its progress with eagerness and pride and look forward to the completion of the project in 2012,” he said.
Leader of the council Brian Leverett said the bridge would kick start regeneration, and welcomed the government’s decision to invest.
“We are delighted that the Department for Transport is fully committed to this project and has reconfirmed its funding of £14.1M towards the building of the Twin Sails Bridge,” he added.
The Twin Sails Bridge project is funded from a range of public sector sources, including the £14.1M grant from the Department for Transport and £9.96M investment from the South West RDA’s (Regional Development Agency) Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) repayable through future planning contributions.
Work on the installation of new mooring piles in Backwater Channel is scheduled to start in July, with the construction of the first support pier expected to follow in August. Three more piers will be built in the channel through the autumn and winter months prior to the installation of the first bridge span next year.
Designer Gifford said the council’s persistence was to be applauded.
“I would like to congratulate Borough of Poole for its tenacity and sheer determination to deliver this project,” said Gifford chairman Gordon Clark. “This ceremony marks the first steps of the final stage - actually constructing this bridge.”