Divers join bridge inspection

Posted on: May 30, 2023 at 11:26 am Diver inspecting bridge pillars in the water

A team of specialist divers has been assisting Island Roads in inspecting the condition of Yarmouth Bridge.

Island Roads have been joined by a team from Island-based MMC Diving Services to carry out the structure’s principal inspection – a detailed investigation to identify its condition so any necessary maintenance or repair work can be planned.

This study includes not just the bridge deck – both the underside and the road surface – but also the piles that support the structure. As much of these bases are below water, even at low tide, specialist dive teams are needed to undertake the inspection.

MMC’s experts plunged into the Yar assisted by a support team to make the necessary assessments which were then passed back to the Island Roads team watching from a specialist floating platform set up to support the operation.

This week’s principal inspection is on top of the regular surveying regime undertaken by Island Roads with the support of Yarmouth Harbour Commission to ensure the bridge remains in good working order and meets modern safety requirements.

Recent major work to ensure that is the case included the installation of safety barrier on the Yarmouth side of the structure earlier this year. In late 2019, the entire bridge was stripped back to the metal and completely repainted with a highly-durable maritime paint.

“Given its location, its heavy use and the fact it has moving parts, it is important that Yarmouth Bridge is subject to a particularly rigorous inspection regime,” said Island Roads structures inspections team leader Vicky Keefe.

“The results of this principal inspection will help us decide the future repair and maintenance requirements for what is a vital piece of the West Wight’s transport infrastructure.

“Once again it’s been great to be able to utilise the specialist services of an Island company to help us undertake the underwater aspect of the survey and provide specialist access.”

Yarmouth Bridge is the Island’s second largest bridge and carries the A3054 Bridge Road over the tidal mouth of the River Yar. It is a seven-span structure comprising main steel beams with timber decking. What makes the bridge unusual is the operational swing span to allow vessels safely in and out of the harbour.

Island Roads has a dedicated team responsible for maintaining – and, where necessary, upgrading – the various structures that support the highway network on the Isle of Wight. This responsibility includes 199 bridges and 568 retaining walls.