A team of divers will be joining engineers on a three-week inspection of some of the Island’s most important but inaccessible bridges.
The work will help Island Roads assess the current condition of 14 bridges spanning watercourses and the reports received will enable repair and maintenance programmes to be put in place.
Structures to be surveyed in the programme that began this week include the bridge on the Cowes-Newport cycletrack over Parkhurst Stream, Marshcombe Shute, Brading, Cedar Hill, Carisbrooke, Horsebridge Hill, Parkhurst and Wootton and Yarmouth bridge.
Among issues being studied is the extent and effect of scouring – the washing away of material such as sand and rocks from underneath the bridge. It is crucial to undertake routine inspections for scour holes as, if left unchecked, they can undermine the foundation of bridges.
It is necessary to engage the services of professional divers at these locations due to the depth of water or because the areas requiring assessment are difficult to access or are confined spaces.
The diving work is being undertaken by Island-based MMC Diving Services.
Once the assessments are carried out, the data is studied to identify what work needs to be done immediately and in the future to ensure the structures remain safe to use.
Victoria Keefe, Island Roads structures engineer, said: “The work required is highly specialised and we are delighted that an Island company MMC Diving has the expertise to undertake it on our behalf.
“The diving team will be working closely with engineers so the information they gather will enable us to record a very accurate account of the condition of the bridges we are looking at – some of which support our busiest roads.
“Because of the nature of work there may be a need to control or divert traffic while the investigations are undertaken. We will of course take steps to keep any disruption to a minimum but remind residents that the work being done now is designed to prevent more serious issues developing in the future.”
A schedule of the works, which are subject to change depending on factors such as inclement weather, is available here http://www.islandroads.com/139-bridge-assessment-works.html