Littlehampton Sea Defence Works gets underway.

The first in what I aim to be regular pictorial updates on the Sea Defence Works taking place in Pier Road, Littlehampton.

Week 1

At 5.35pm on Monday, 21st October, Pier Road was closed to vehicular traffic.

Pier Road closedAn eerie quiet descended on Pier Road as the traffic suddenly stopped but this was short lived as a number of motorists decided to ignore the Road Closed Signs, stop, get out of their vehicles, move the cones and then drive through regardless.

This pretty much continued until the following day when the contractors began erecting the heras fencing. Even then some drivers still drove through, but not in the same numbers as the previous evening.

However, no sooner was the road closed and it was open again as the result of a car crash in New Road junction Bayford Road.

Bayford road has now become the alternative route for traffic that would normally travel down Pier Road. Obviously, we can’t attribute the car crash on the traffic diversions, but it resulted in the contractors re-opening Pier Road for a period to allow traffic come down Pier Road while Bayford road was closed. Let’s hope there’s no more such traffic crashes or incidents, as Pier Road won’t be so easily opened in the future now the heras fencing and site infrastructure is in place.

Car accident in Bayford Road LittlehamptonThe traffic collision in New Road where two motor cars collided with each other with the silver car crashing into the Mobile Phone Shop’s window.

With this being the weekend of the bonfire celebrations, I raised concerns that given the potentially large flow of pedestrians that usually come down Pier Road, it would be perhaps a good idea if they left an extra wide gap for these large numbers to pass through.

Sergeant Roy Hodder, our always-helpful local Police Sergeant liaised with the site manager and between them they ensured that Pier Road had sufficient width to accommodate the numbers. Sadly, as events transpired the bonfire and parade were cancelled owing to the awful weather and Pier Road was quite literally void of it’s usual crowds.

I think the increased footway, which pretty much was a single carriage way wide led alot of people into a false sense of security and also perhaps gave a misleading impression as to how Pier Road will be for the duration of the works.

Surprisingly, no one I spoke to, apart from the businesses owners seemed to have any idea of why the road was closed. There seems to be a general unawareness that these works were due to take place.

Despite the awful weather, the Environment Agency have confirmed that they achieved all their first week’s goals and they’re on target.

These goals included:

  1. Closing the roads
  2. Erecting the heras fencing
  3. Completing road surveys and various other works that they’ve been unable to do while the road was open
  4. Preparations began for the new site for Riverside Fish Kiosk.

Our own business in Pier Road (Coastal Cycles) had a welcome boost to our sales with the sale of a fleet of four bikes to VolkerStevin the contractor whose building the scheme.

The bikes will be used by the contractors to cycle to and from the various locations that they’re operating from. Remember, or if you’re already not aware that this Project comprises of a number of areas divided up into  a number of ‘Reaches’ with the main contractors HQ now located at Railway Wharf in Littlehampton Harbour Board’s land.

 Reach 1  – Arun Parade

Reach 2 – Pier Road

Reach 3 – River Road

Environment Agency Bikes for the SchemeRepresentatives from the Environment Agency, VolkerStevin and the directors of Coastal Cycles hand over the new bikes for use during the scheme, which I am delighted to say, are already in regular use.

Week 2

The following Monday morning, work began on placing the heras fencing into its final position in preparation for the main works to come.

Littlehampton Sea Defence worksIt’s hard to describe how different the road feels with this reduced width. The pavement area is now only 2 metres wide something we all argued about during the consultation process as not being wide enough.

There were some shocked faces when they saw just how narrow this pavement is going to be. Remember, it’s going to be like this until June 2014. I can’t imagine the Easter weekend, let alone early summer.

You could argue, of course that this is nothing narrower than the existing pavement as was pointed out to us during the consultation process. However, as we pointed out back – you must measure this against the loss of the opposite side pavement and the fact you no longer side step momentarily into the road to create space for passing buggies, mobility scooters, pushchairs, prams and, how do I say this without causing offense? The wider amongst us..

Pier Road works by Environment AgencyAbove shows just how narrow the pavement really is and I think this is going to be one of the biggest challenges of the scheme – the free flow of pedestrian traffic.

Pier Road Sea Defence worksTo everyone’s relief the Green portable building pictured earlier was removed and is now located by the Oyster Pond. This green building will be the Scheme’s Information Centre and will be manned by Eric Smethurst, the scheme’s public liaison officer. And what a great guy he is. When we were first told by the Project Manager that the scheme would have a Liaison officer, my thoughts turned to bureaucracy personified with a high viz jacket and a rule book. But, Eric is just what’s needed for this scheme. A man whose enthusiasm and laughter is infectious and obviously loves what he does and has enormous engineering experience with projects just like this one.

I’m delighted to say that Eric has agreed to take part in a future  interview with the Pier Road Diaries where we’ll get an opportunity to ask him about his Visitor Information Centre, which incidentally, should be operational early next week, and his role.

Visitor Information Centre for the Sea DefencesThe Green Building located by the Oyster Pond is the scheme’s Visitor Information Centre, manned by Eric Smethhurst who’ll be happy to answer any questions and talk you through the details of how the flood defences will be built. There will also be lots of visuals and useful information.

works in Pier Road LittlehamptonAll the charter fishing boats have now been relocated to the Visitors Mooring area and local firm, Littlehampton Welding LTD have been busy working on the pontoons now that everything is being moved around.

Sea Defence work LittlehamptonThe ‘Nelson Steps’ have now been removed. These being the steps at the back of the Riverside Fish Kiosk and are regularly used by the local fishermen to land their catch to the fish kiosk. I’m not too sure where they’ll land their fish in the future as the whole area will be off limits for some time to come. Knowing Bob (the owner of the kiosk), I’d imagine he’s got it sussed.

Sea Defence Works LittlehamptonI had a very interesting and informative chat with the crane operator/driver who explained that this crane is a ’40 tonner’ and a mere baby to the 100 tonner that is due to arrive in Littlehampton next Wednesday. This larger crane will be used to lift in the heavy duty equipment to drive in the piles

At a previous consultation meeting, Andy Hills from VolkerStevin explained they will be using a ‘Vibro Piling Hammer’, which apparently, despite it’s name reduces the likelyhood of vibration on the surrounding area.

So if you want to see the heavy duty equipment arrive and be installed, next Wednesday (6th November) is the scheduled day for it all too arrive.

Fish Kiosk LittlehamptonThe Riverside Fish Kiosk, Pier Road’s hugely popular Fish Mongers is closed at the moment. This was pre-planned as the contractor needs to prepare the kiosk ready to be moved to it’s new, temporary location opposite the Nelson Hotel.  I spoke to the contractor earlier today and he explained to me although it will be lifted by the 40tonne crane, it won’t be specatularly flying through the air on it’s journey, more of being lifted a couple of mms off the ground and carefully, very carefully swung into position.

Once the Fish Kiosk re-opens, we’ll tweet this to our followers – so please make sure if you want to keep up-todate with all that’s going on you follow the Pier Road Diaries Twitter account @Pier_Road  make sure also you sign up to receive an email to advise you when the Pier Road Diaries are updated. With the scheme now underway, I’m hoping for at least twice weekly photo-blog posts, hopefully more.

All going to plan and on-time?

There’s been criticism that the Environment Agency haven’t yet erected the large banners they’d promised, advertising that all our businesses are open, haven’t yet been erected.

I have to take some of the blame for this as despite Andrew Walker’s (Environment Agency) continued reminders to me about supplying our logos, I’m afraid I didn’t get them to him until the Friday before before the road closed. But, I wasn’t the only one….(you know who you are)

In terms of time-scales.

At our last consultation meeting, we were given a presentation by the Contractor, Andy Hills who outlined the first three week’s programme and without boring you with a blow-by-blow programme, the project is on target, despite the appalling weather.

Can I just say a big thank you to Eric and his colleagues from VolkerStevin and Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency for being so helpful in allowing me to take pictures for the Diaries and also answer my many questions. With this sort of co-operation I should be able to keep you updated with all that’s going on.

And, please do remember, Pier Road is open as usual and there’s free car parking available in the West Green Car Park – just look out for the signs.


2 thoughts on “Littlehampton Sea Defence Works gets underway.

  1. What a great diary! Now, as townspeople, we need to keep using our Pier Road businesses during the disruption and not let them slip out of mind. Martin.

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