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Sections of Thames Garden Bridge will be shipped from Italy

Major elements of the £175M Thames Garden Bridge will be made in factories in Italy, it has emerged.

Project promoter the Garden Bridge Trust said the main bridge structure would be fabricated in sections and transported by ship and barge to the site.

A joint venture of French firm Bouygues and Italian contractor Cimolai was last month selected as preferred bidder for the controversial 6,000m2 river crossing between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges in the heart of London.

Now the Garden Bridge Trust has set out the process by which the bridge – which remains subject to a judicial review of its planning approval – will be built.

“The main structure will be fabricated in sections in Cimolai’s manufacturing facility in Italy,” it said in a statement.

“Bridge sections will be transported by sea to the UK as large structures, staged at Tilbury [Docks in Essex] for partial assembly, and then brought by barge along the Thames to the Garden Bridge site to be lifted into place.”

The trust said £127M of the cost of the bridge had now been pledged, with a fundraising event scheduled for Harrods next month featuring a performance by pop star Jessie Ware.

Actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley has previously endorsed the bridge project, which was given planning permission by Lambeth and Westminster Councils.

However, a judge last month ruled that opponents’ claims that the structure would obstruct views to the north of the river, and that there was inadequate provision for on-going maintenance costs, must be heard in court.

Lambeth Council’s decision to approve the bridge will be debated in June. The legal challenge has been spearheaded by Waterloo Community Development Group leader Michael Ball.

Also in June, the Bouygues-Cimolai team will submit design priorities to lead consultants Arup.

Full design and construction plans will be submitted to the client for approval in August.

The trust then intends to formally award the construction contract in September, allowing enabling works to begin. This would include preparation of the site, intensive surveying, and the building of work compounds.

Work is due to start properly on site in the first quarter of next year, the project promoter said. Worksites will be established on the North and South Bank of the Thames in January 2016, but there will be limited construction work on the South bank before that September.

The installation of working platforms to construct cofferdams for the two bridge piers will begin from February 2016, with the first piles sunk into the river bed that summer.

Work to build the landing stage on the South Bank will start in late 2016, alongside construction of the north and south bridge piers.

The bridge will be completed with the llift of four large sections between May and October 2017, with planting due to start shortly afterwards.

The crossing will open in June 2018, according to the trust.

Anthony Marley, programme director at the Garden Bridge Trust, said: “We are all systems go, with a construction timetable that is realistic and deliverable, building in time to deal with issues that may arise.

“This is a big step on the road to making the Garden Bridge a reality and an exciting new feature for London and Londoners, one that will be built with consideration for local communities throughout.”

Senior engineers have questioned the cost of the bridge, and others have challenged the fact that cyclists will have to dismount to cross it, and that it will close at midnight.

Readers' comments (3)

  • This is a disgraceful way to spend taxpayers money. Only in London could this over expensive structure be built paid for by the majority for the benefit of the minority.
    Bring on the northern powerhouse!!
    Roger Colton

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  • So this unnecessary vanity project doesn't even generate as many jobs as it might for the home market. Still I don't suppose those promoting the scheme have met many normal working people so they probably didn't realise...

    David Gartside

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  • Manufacture in Italy, built by the French and an eyesore in London, blocking out one of the most charismatic views of the Thames. Lumley, Johnson and the rest of promoters need to be stopped in their tracks before this wasteful monstrosity is built

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