DESIGN LIFE of the Thames Barrier could be extended by 70 years depending on the results of a new £200,000 study by consultant Halcrow.
The barrier is designed to last until 2030, but it is hoped its design life could be extended to 2100, said Halcrow regional flood manager Roland Grzybek.
The study for barrier owner the Environment Agency will explore whether this could be done by raising the height of the barrier gates to mitigate climate change effects. It will also look at possible improvements to the maintenance regime, he added.
As part of the study, Halcrow will create a three dimensional finite element model of the barrier, before subjecting it to a series of weather and river change scenarios to find out how the barrier will cope.
Halcrow will also run other tests to see if small design changes can squeeze extra residual design life from the structure.
This will enable the company to advise the Agency by the end of the year on the most cost effective way that the barrier can be adapted or maintained to last until the end of the century.
Grzybek added that initially Halcrow will check that the barrier can last until its current design life expires in 2030.
Concerns were raised in 2000 when consultant Posford Duvivier found that the barrier's coating system was potentially failing and reducing its original design life (NCE 30 March 2000).
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