Cumbria County Council’s essential maintenance works programme on Jubilee Bridge in Barrow is set to resume tomorrow (Wednesday 29 April), following a review of the authority’s construction schemes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Works on the Jubilee Bridge scheme were temporarily suspended on 27 March to support social distancing measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The construction industry has since received greater clarity and direction on this issue from the Government, which has confirmed work at construction sites can continue provided enhanced operating procedures are in place.
In the light of this clear guidance, the county council has reviewed a number of key strategic construction sites to identify if works can resume safely in line with the new procedures and Public Health England guidance. Work resumed last week on the replacement bridge project at Pooley Bridge. Now Story Contracting, our main contractor on the Jubilee Bridge project, has confirmed they can resume works on the essential bridge maintenance programme following guidance from the Construction Leadership Council.
Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is both a health and economic crisis. We are working with our main contractors to support local economic activity where it is safe to do so. The clear guidance from government means that some projects like the Jubilee Bridge essential maintenance programme and the replacement bridge project at Pooley Bridge, can safely resume with necessary measures put in place by our contractors to protect the workforce and community.
“These are truly exceptional circumstances and we will be closely monitoring all construction activity to ensure government guidance is strictly followed. The health, safety and wellbeing of our residents, communities and contractor workforce are of paramount importance to us.”
Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council added: “These are seriously challenging times for our UK economy and it’s vital where organisations are able to work safely and adhere to the Government guidelines then they should continue to do so. I welcome this further clarification from Government which supports the construction industry and other sectors to continue to work – providing they are able to keep their workforce and the public safe at the same time.”
Emma Porter, Managing Director of Story Contracting’s Construction Division, said: “We are pleased to continue our partnership with Cumbria County Council through these unprecedented times, and have worked together to develop a project plan to allow the essential works on Jubilee Bridge to be restarted. Story Contracting have continued to work across the transport infrastructure nationwide, keeping the railways operational, which is even more important at these times than in normal times. As a result of this, we have developed comprehensive safety documents and working methods, which we can now adopt in other critical infrastructure projects including Jubilee Bridge.
“Our measures protect our employees and their families as well as the public and other key workers. They include reducing the number of employees and sub-contractors on a site, 1 person to 1 vehicle, segregating specific work areas and one way systems on site. At all times social distancing and additional hygiene measures will also be in place.
“The Government have thanked the construction industry for continuing to support both the UK’s infrastructure as well as the economy by continuing to work whilst following all guidance from them and Public Health England.”
Cumbria County Council is investing £4.5m in the essential maintenance programme on Jubilee Bridge. Works on Phase 2 of the project involve steelwork and concrete repairs and repainting the bridge. The first phase, involving bridge re-waterproofing and resurfacing works, was completed last year.
Jubilee Bridge measures 350m in length, making it the longest bridge in Cumbria. The essential maintenance will extend the life of the bridge by many years by improving the condition of the structural steelwork.
The council is also working closely with the contractors commissioned to work on other key construction projects to determine if they are also able to safely resume working.