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Iconic Poole Harbour bridge poised for construction go-ahead

Construction of Poole’s £37M Twin Sails Bridge project is now waiting on transport minister Sadiq Khan after the local council selected a contractor for the scheme.

Borough of Poole council has selected an as yet unnamed contractor to build the iconic harbour crossing for a target price of £18.6M from a shortlist of six.

Tenders for the project were submitted at the end of October 2009. Two shortlisted contractors were called in for interview in November, and a final selection made by an extraordinary meeting of the council last month. The successful bidder will not be told until final approval for the scheme is granted by the DfT.

Final approval is now needed from the Department for Transport for a £14.1M grant to help fund the project. The South West Regional Development Agency has already granted approval for a £9.96M loan.

Once DfT approval is granted, the 20-month construction project will start in the spring of 2010. The Twin Sails Bridge is scheduled to open to the public before the end of 2011.

Borough of Poole cabinet portfolio holder for the local economy councillor Ron Parker said: “The high quality of the submissions received by the council demonstrates the high degree of interest from some of the UK and Europe’s leading construction companies in such an exciting and iconic project.

“The Twin Sails Bridge will give Poole the much-needed second harbour crossing that residents and businesses have called for over many years. We are also confident it will prove to be the catalyst for other regeneration projects that will create jobs and transform our town centre in the years ahead.” 

DfT approval

It is expected that gaining DfT approval will be little more than a formality, with provisional approval granted in February 2007, subject to six conditions. Five of these conditions were resolved through an exchange of correspondence between the Council and the DfT in April 2009.

The sixth condition specified that the Council would supply “details of the tender exercise and any resulting changes to the proposal”. The council’s chief financial officer and head of finance wrote to the DfT at the end of November 2009 confirming the tender values and advising that the Council intended to proceed with the scheme unchanged. The Most Economically Advantageous Tender received came well within the budget estimate for this element of the scheme.

The council had hoped that the DfT would grant approval before 6 January. But DfT officials have subsequently advised that the information submitted by the Council will need to be considered by a DfT committee on 12 January 2010 and that this committee’s recommendation will then need to be approved by transport minister Sadiq Khan.

The scheme has been given a ‘top priority’ status by the South West region through the Regional Funding Allocations process.

The legal agreement for the £9.96M Regional Infrastructure Fund loan has been completed and has been signed by the council.

Advance works

Advanced works are already underway in anticipation of DfT approval.

Maritime works of dredging and mooring relocation are currently being completed by Poole Harbour Commissioners.

A compound for the contractor on a former power station site has been prepared, with lizard relocation and asbestos removal having been completed.

Land acquisition is complete, accept for a small strip of land to the north of the approach. The council is also working to remove an illegal encampment that has been set up on land near the site.

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