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Lowestoft bridge opening pushed back to next year

Photo of progress taken in June []. The main bascule span is expected to be installed in the new year.

When construction contractor Farrans agreed a £76m price in September 2020 to build the Gull Wing, Lowestoft’s third crossing over Lake Lothing, the bridge was expected to open this summer.

Farrans has now applied to the council for an extension of a road closure to allow for the completion of the highways works on the northern side of Lake Lothing. The road closure is now expected to be in place until the end of October as building a new northern roundabout and approach road to the bridge, with drainage, attenuation ponds and utilities, are taking longer than previously estimated.

Construction of the bridge itself continues to make progress, the council said, with seven of the bridge’s eight spans already lifted into place. The concreting of the bridge deck slabs is well under way on both sides of Lake Lothing, and the new control room at the top of the control tower is under construction. The plant room building is also currently being fitted out with the power supply, hydraulic pumps, communications equipment, and other building services.

The main bascule span is expected to be installed in the new year, pending agreement with Associated British Ports, during which time it is expected the navigation channel will be closed for three weeks.

The giant ‘J’ beams and bridge deck are being fabricated and assembled in Belgium and the Netherlands and will arrive by sea. The installation and commissioning of the bascule span will form the final and most complex major element of the project.

Once construction is completed, there will be a short period of time for final commissioning and for staff to be trained in the operating of the lifting bascule bridge before it can be opened to the public in 2024.

Total cost of the project was put at £146m at the start of works.

Suffolk County Council project director Simon Bretherton said: “The Gull Wing Bridge would be a complex and challenging infrastructure project at the best of times, to say nothing of the challenges of covid and the global supply issues we have faced in the past few years.

“We apologise for the short-term disruption this road closure extension may cause, and we are grateful to residents for their continued patience and understanding. We will continue to work with our contractor, Farrans, to complete the remaining works as quickly as we can. Although there will continue to be some disruption in the short term, the long-term benefits of the new bridge will be felt for many decades to come.”

He added: “A clearer view of the timetable for its completion and opening will emerge as we undertake that final major component during a closure of the main navigation channel in the new year.”

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