The Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project has been halted until further notice, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
The site has been shut down and made safe and both lanes of the New Bridge re-opened with a temporary surface.
Bridge Clerk Sue Threader has made this statement: “For the safety of the contractors, the public and staff, work on the Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project has been put on hold.
“The decision was made when the New Bridge was under single lane operation, with concrete repairs being carried out. There were also a number of other ongoing activities across the site, which could not be stopped without careful planning.
“The final 96 hours of operation saw the whole team working extremely hard to implement the close down procedure as quickly as possible in a safe and orderly way. All materials have now been tidied away and secured and an independent health and safety inspection has been carried out.
“Now all that remains is for the traffic signals to be reset and road restrictions to be lifted, this will be carried out during the week beginning 6th April, as agreed with Medway Council.
“On behalf of the Rochester Bridge Trust I extend my thanks to all involved with the project for their commitment to making the site safe at this difficult time.
“We tried very hard to continue work and the main contractor had put in place a range of measures to keep the workforce safe both on site and during travel and welfare breaks. However we have had up to 60 people on site at a time (many of them working under the bridges). Nearly every activity on site has to be done as teams and many of the processes need people to be working closer together than 2m for safety. We needed to stop work on some of these activities as we couldn’t maintain safe working and social distancing. Then more people from the teams needed to self-isolate under the government guidance and various sub-contractors and suppliers shut down their operations. The temporary accommodation used by some of our sub-contractors started to close too and all our car-sharing to site arrangements were no longer available.
“Although we could have continued some work for a bit longer we did not want to put anyone at extra risk or to be in a position where any escalation in the current situation led to a sudden and urgent need to close the site with little warning. By taking the decision when we did we have been able to mothball the site in a managed way and make sure all lanes and junctions have been left fully open to traffic so as not to interrupt the movement of emergency services and essential workers if at all possible.
“The work we are doing is essential for the long-term health of the bridges but not so immediately urgent that we want to put the health of our staff and contractors at any unnecessary risk if that is avoidable. As soon as it is safe to do so we will restart the work.”
During the lockdown, FM Conway will continue its essential work as Term Maintenance Contractor, cleaning the public areas and checking for potholes, lighting failures and any other issues that may occur on the bridges or refurbishment sites. This will include maintaining security of the site, regular inspections of traffic management, scaffolding and all Trust-owned areas.