The new £4.6M floating bridge on the Isle of Wight has encountered more setbacks after “teething issues”, including damage to cars because of the angle of a ramp, forced it to close just one day after opening.
The 37.4m floating bridge acts as a chain ferry connecting people and vehicles across the island’s Medina river. On Sunday (14 May) an electrical fault caused the bridge to close after it reportedly left people stranded for several hours.
After opening on Saturday (13 May) several cars scraped their bumpers because of difficulties negotiating the angle of the bridge’s ramp and its meeting with the slipway.
The bridge had already been delayed: an unexpected amount of steel-reinforced concrete had been discovered around two chain pits, forcing the opening of the floating bridge back by several weeks.
A floating bridge has been in use across the Medina since 1859. Campaigner for a fixed link tunnel between the Isle of Wight and the mainland, Carl Feeney, criticised the decision to replace the bridge rather than consider alternative options.
“It’s the Victorian, antiquated, outdated modes of transport the council has again decided to go for because they’ve got no imagination,” he said.
Isle of Wight Council said the electrical problems had been fixed, and the bridge should reopen soon.
“It was anticipated that during the first couple of weeks, that there would be a few minor issues to be ironed out, some of which could not be identified until the vessel was back in service and in full use,” said a spokesperson for the council.
“We would encourage all vehicle users to drive slowly onto and off of the floating bridge.”
The floating bridge is moved across the chains by two independently driven wheels, each 2.2m diameter and 2.2t in weight. An official launch service will take place in June.