Clashing construction works on the Garden Bridge and Tideway projects could cause a major boat collision on the capital’s river, a leading marine engineer has warned.
New Civil Engineer sister title The Architects’ Journal has learnt that civil engineering consultancy Beckett Rankine warned a government body that a “hazardous juxtaposition of construction activities” surrounds London’s Garden Bridge.
It has obtained an email from Tim Beckett, Beckett Rankine’s co-founder, though a Freedom of Information Act request, which warns the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) about the potential for the Garden Bridge to clash with work on the Thames Tideway Tunnel (TTT).
It is another blow to the Garden Bridge – enabling works on the project were halted last month.
Spoil barges from the Tideway project, which will double Thames traffic between 2018 and 2019, pose the biggest risk in the scenario outlined by Beckett.
His email warned that the “matter of navigational risks do not appear to have been adequately considered”.
The email also stated that if the Garden Bridge project goes ahead as planned there is a risk that a collision similar to the Marchioness and Bowbelle disaster in 1989 could occur.
That collision killed 51 people.
Beckett told the MMO: ”The TTT will involve a tripling of large freight movements on King’s Reach while the Northern Line extension and Fulham football ground works are due to add even more heavy freight movements. Meanwhile passenger boat movements are at a record level and still rising.”
”During this unprecedented level of river traffic Blackfriars [Bridge’s] No.2 arch will be closed for the TTT works, further increasing navigational risk in King’s Reach. To then add the two Garden Bridge cofferdams on top of all these other increased risks would, I believe, be an unnecessary and reckless risk.
“The likelihood of a major collision between a passenger vessel and a large freight vessel, such as happened 27 years ago with the Marchioness and Bowbelle, is simply too great.”
A spokesperson for the Garden Bridge Trust said: “We have been in extensive dialogue with the TTT to ensure that our respective works are fully integrated with no construction clashes.”