Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project to restart

Work on the Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project – which had been halted as a result of the Covid-19 crisis – has begun to resume.

The site had been shut down while the programme was reviewed in relation to social distancing measures for the safety of both workers and the public.

Bridge Clerk Sue Threader said: “A huge amount of work has been done on the social distancing rules, with lead contractor FM Conway appointing a Social Distancing Marshal, whose sole job is to oversee and enforce the rules for the safety of all.”

Mobilisation of the site began on Monday 11th May. Prior to site closure, work was being carried out to waterproof the deck of the New Bridge. This will resume, with traffic management being reinstated and the bridge brought down to one lane of traffic on Monday, 18th May. Works on other areas of the site will gradually be phased in – as social distancing allows.

A number of strict social distancing and hygiene measures are being implemented to ensure the safety of all who work on or travel across the bridges while work is carried out. This includes infrared temperature monitoring on arrival at the site; strict quarantine procedures; the wearing of additional personal protective equipment; and much more.

FM Conway Structures Director Matt Smith added: “Safety is always of the utmost importance, with the Covid-19 crisis adding an extra layer to that which is already carried out. The activities listed are just a few of a raft of measures being implemented to enable us to continue our work on Rochester’s bridges while doing what we can to stop the spread of infection.

“However, the Government recognises that there are times when social distancing is not practical for certain tasks. For those operations additional safety measures will be implemented, including the wearing of extra personal protective equipment: if a safe system of work cannot be implemented then the activity in question will not take place.

“It is in our best interests to follow the guidelines and we wish to reassure the public that all activities will be overseen by the Social Distancing Marshal and we take the safety of all who are on the bridges very seriously.”

The restarting of works means traffic management and road diversions that were in place before the lockdown will be reinstated. From Monday, 18th May, there will be no right turn from the New Bridge to Rochester Esplanade; no right turn from Rochester Esplanade to Corporation Street in Rochester; and the end of Canal Road will be closed – this will instead be temporarily accessed via Riverside. Diversion signs will be put in place.

Sue Threader continued: “We apologise for any inconvenience and hope people will understand the reasons for last month’s pause to the works and for the diversions being implemented now.

“The Trust has had to review the scope of the refurbishment project in light of the current circumstances. We will be deferring some of the work which cannot be done under social distancing rules and this should ensure the contract will be completed by the end of the year as planned. The deferred works are those which do not require major scaffolding or disruption to bridge users and will be undertaken in smaller packages in future years.”

If you have any questions about the Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project, please contact Helen McConnell, Public Liaison Officer for FM Conway, by emailing helen.mcconnell@fmconway.co.uk or calling 07917 518529.

For more information visit www.rbt.org.uk/refurbishment.