More work than was first thought necessary means contractors will not finish remedial work on the £32m King’s Dyke bridge, Whittlesey, until July.
Cambridgeshire County Council made the announcement of being contacted by CambsNews after we published photographs of the work in progress.
“The remedial work to the verge at the top of the embankment has been progressing well, although it has been necessary for the contractor to remove and replace material at a lower level than initially anticipated,” said a council spokesperson.
“The work has also been restricted by the availability of road space due to other works needing to take place in the area.
“We’re aiming to finish all the work in July, although the remedial work to the embankment should be completed in June as planned.”
In April the council announced remedial work would begin on the bridge – known as Ralph Butcher Causeway – starting on 19 April for nine weeks “although we hope to finish sooner if possible”.
However, with the extra work now needed, the council has explained that the mid-June deadline has been extended to July.
“Following our post in April, we explained we were carrying out remedial work and at the end of any major scheme there is a period where final checks are completed,” said the spokesperson.
“Last year, there was a focus on Star Pit and a piled wall was installed below ground level.
“That work allowed the road’s embankment to be built on top.
“As part of that final check, Cambridgeshire County Council and Jones Bros agreed further work was required at the top of the embankment.”
The spokesperson explained that the remedial work involves:
- Removing the safety barrier and fence between the rail bridge and the underpass structures
- Replacing the top 1.2m of verge
- The installation of drainage
- Reinstalling the safety barrier
“We’re aiming to finish all the work in July, although the remedial work to the embankment should be completed in June as planned,” said the spokesperson.
Council dismisses visual ‘assessment’
The council has also dismissed a visual ‘assessment’ of the bridge made by an engineer who contacted CambsNews after seeing our recent photographs.
The engineer wrote: “From looking at the photos my guess is that once again the clever consultants have ignored the difficulties of building anything in Fenland with its very high-water table and poor ground stability.
“They get this wrong every time despite the examples of the concrete guided busway at Impington, Fen Drayton and the piling needed to support the embankment on the Ely Southern Bypass.
“The views in the article quite clearly indicate that the work in hand is to stabilise the road embankment which appears to be visibly subsiding at one point. In other words, the underlying fen ground conditions will not support the weight of the concrete road structure and safety barrier.
“The whole lot appears to by migrating towards the excavated water filled pit at the right-hand side of the picture. You will note that where the road crosses the railway the Bridge abutments are deep piled to take the weight of the concrete span.
“The circular piles are clearly visible in the construction sequence still photos.
“One shudders to contemplate yet another legal action against the design and build contractors as the final product is clearly defective and unfit for purpose.”
But his observations have been dismissed by the county council.
“As for the engineer comments – ‘the whole lot appears to be migrating’ this is not correct,” said the council spokesperson.
“Our monitoring records collected in the months before the remedial work started indicated that the carriageway was not affected.
“Hence why the material at the top of the verge is being replaced.
“The problem is believed to have occurred because the fill material originally used is not draining as expected.
“A different class of material is being used and a land drainage feature has also been included in replacement.”
The spokesperson also took issue with the observation that “the final product is clearly defective and unfit for purpose”.
The spokesperson said: “This is also not correct. We’re not sure what photos the engineer is commenting on, but the matter has been picked up as per our contract, it’s been investigated, further design work has been carried out and remedial work is being done to address it.
“The road won’t be fully completed until the contractor has completed all work, including remedial work, on site.
“The county council will be keeping the situation under review and if there are any further signs of movement following the reconstruction these will be followed up with the contractor in the normal way as per the contract.”
The spokesperson added: “We are carrying out the work as quickly as possible, and we thank everyone for their patience.”
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