Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you doing this work?

All bridges need regular maintenance to keep them safe. The Trust carries out routine maintenance, but as with the servicing of a car, sometimes more of an overhaul is needed. Now is that time.

When did you start?

The works – which, wherever possible, are being carried out overnight – began on the New Bridge on 22nd April 2019.

When do the works finish?

The works will take approximately 18 months.

Why will the refurbishment take so long?

There is a lot to do! The work is being carried out on one bridge at a time so that any disruption is only in one direction – the aim is to keep the disruption down as much as humanly possible.

Where can I find out the timings of the works?

A full programme of works cannot be published in advance because of the changeable nature of any work site. Details of upcoming traffic management will be posted here. Please note, all efforts are being made to minimise disruption.

Why are you closing the bridges?

We are not completely closing the bridges. On the New Bridge we are trying to keep two traffic lanes available, especially during the day. When the contractor needs more space to carry out work safely, we will have to have single lane closures but these will take place on one bridge at a time. There will be a couple of weekends when a whole bridge will need to be closed for resurfacing, but it is hoped a contraflow system will be in place to enable traffic to flow in both directions.

All traffic management is to enable the work to be carried out safely. The work is being planned to ensure as many activities as possible can be carried out during each lane closure, to keep disruption to a minimum.

Why can’t all the works take place at night, leaving everything clear in the day?

As much work as possible will be done at night, and longer tasks will be carried out 24/7, but this is not always an option. Some works are restricted by safety, and others are tasks that require much more time.

How much is this all costing?

The project as a whole will cost more than £10million.

Who is paying for this?

The Rochester Bridge Trust is paying for the works to its bridges from its own reserves and at no cost to the public. This is as per the Trust’s motto: Publica Privatis, which can be translated as “public service from private means”. The Trust does not receive any income from local or national taxes.

Some elements of the work under this contract will be carried out on areas or equipment which do not belong to the Trust and where responsibility or ownership belongs to other organisations – for instance the utility companies using the Service Bridge. In these cases the work will be carried out and re-charged with their prior agreement.

Who is carrying out the work?

The lead contractor is FM Conway, overseen by Bridge Engineer Arcadis.

Other Common Questions

Weren’t the bridges refurbished a few years ago?

In 2006, 13 years ago, the lead paint was removed from the Old Bridge and it was repainted above and below deck. This is the last time a major carriageway intervention took place. Nine years ago, in 2010, restoration was completed on one parapet of the Old Bridge, alongside the upstream footway.

The last major work to the New Bridge was in 2000, 19 years ago.

Does this mean you’ll never have to close the bridges again?

Routine maintenance and cleaning will continue after the main works (eg clearing out drains, pressure washing, cleaning streetlights, replacing lamps) but this will be carried out by the Term Maintenance Contractor, mainly at night as already happens.

How much noise will there be?

Some tasks inevitably cause some noise, but the contractor will be sensitive to the timings of this work.

Why are you filling in the space on Rochester Esplanade where there used to be public toilets?

The toilets were closed in the early 1970s and all the fixtures and fittings removed and the windows blocked. The space is small and of no architectural interest (ie no interesting tiles). There is not enough room to provide proper steps or other ways down that would meet modern accessibility standards and it would be extremely challenging to assure personal safety. This refurbishment is an opportunity to fill the void which has been unused for nearly 50 years, and to ensure the area does not deteriorate to become a safety risk in the future. The appearance of the window apertures will be maintained.

How much traffic do the bridges carry?

The Old Bridge and the New Bridge together have an average flow of more than 30,000 vehicles in any 24-hour period.

Is the Trust going to build more bridges to cope with the extra traffic from the Riverside and other developments?

To make it worthwhile adding new bridge capacity at Rochester there would need to be additional road network capacity on the approaches and exits.  As local highway and network authority, Medway Council controls the road network. If new road capacity and connections can be provided, the Trust could consider supporting or facilitate further crossings.

Are you going to do something about the traffic signals on each side of the river, where there are sometimes delays at peak periods?

Medway Council owns and controls the traffic signals.

What about all the other activities in Medway – festivals, events and road works or developments elsewhere?

Our contractors have worked closely with the Council and other relevant parties to co-ordinate timings. When it comes to festivals, provision has been written into the contract with the main provider, FM Conway, and extra staff will be on site during events to help keep people safe and point people in the right direction to navigate around work areas.

Last updated: May 2019