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Unexpected concrete find delays 'floating bridge'

Floating bridge

A “floating bridge” on the Isle of Wight is ready for testing after overcoming technical setbacks.

The 37.4m long bridge, which acts as a chain ferry connecting people and vehicles across the Medina river, was due to open to the public this week but has been pushed back until mid-May as a surprising amount of steel-reinforced concrete was found around two chain pits, which will anchor the bridge.

Both chain pits needed partial reconstruction due to their age: the first floating bridge was built across the river in 1859 and the brickwork dates back to the early 1900s. All of the structural steelwork and the 3.5t weights counterbalancing the chains had suffered extensive corrosion damage and needed to be replaced to protect the bridge from failure.

But following excavation around the pits an unexpected amount of steel-reinforced concrete was discovered, obstructing areas where new steelwork needed fitting. It therefore had to be removed before work could take place, delaying the opening of the bridge.

“While it was hoped that the new floating bridge would be in service from the first week in May, it has been unavoidably delayed until mid-May due to critical elements of the infrastructure taking longer than anticipated,” said a spokesperson for Isle of Wight council.

“As with any major infrastructure and engineering project, exact timeframes cannot always be definitively given.”

The floating bridge is moved across the chains by two independently driven wheels, each 2.2m diameter and 2.2t in weight. It is now fixed on the chains and undergoing testing before opening in the middle of this month.

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