Earlier this week, I caught up with Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency and asked him if the Environment Agency would provide a detailed update that I could share with readers of the Pier Road Diaries.
Despite being over-run with weather and dealing with constant and dangerous flooding problems, Andrew and his team have found the time to provide this useful update for Littlehampton’s residents and business owners.
When will the Works now be completed?
The works in Pier Road and Arun Parade are currently forecast to be completed in autumn 2014.
2. What caused this delay?
There are four main reasons for the delay we are currently experiencing:
1. Adverse weather, including; a 30 year extreme high tide event, multiple days of gale force winds and largest amount of December rainfall in the Arun catchment since 1934. The wettest January on record.
2. Multiple crane and crane rig breakdowns, as well as other technical issues with mechanical plant.
3. A number of complex and very important safety issues regarding locating the crane on the existing riverside area (temporary works).
4. The drawings for Arun Parade and Pier Road have recently been finalised, this has led to some increases in the amount of time required on site.
3. Why didn’t you know about these safety issues before the start of the works?
Our original method of works was to stand the cranes in Arun Parade and Pier Road on standard crane mats. Following on from a detailed analysis of the existing structures it became evident that there was a significant risk of a catastrophic slip circle failure of the existing structure. This has led to a redesign of the structures which support the cranes.
4. Why didn’t you factor weather delays into your programme?
We did factor in typical winter weather into our construction programme. To date, this winter’s weather has been exceptional.
We have experienced nearly 4 month’s rain in 2 weeks in December. January was the wettest on record and February is forecast to continue experiencing further low pressure systems. More importantly, we have experienced a larger than average number of gale force wind events throughout December and January.
When average wind speeds increase above 13m/s, crane operations on site are suspended for safety reasons. Using the crane to drive the steel sheet piles is a critical item of work on site. This is why high wind speeds can have a negative impact on the construction works.
5. What are you doing about this delay?
We have already started doing some work at the weekends, in order to try and minimise the impacts. We are continuing to work with Arun District Council Environmental Health team to explore the opportunities to reduce the construction programme by working at weekends.
We are looking for every opportunity to maximise efficiency to start to regain lost time. For example, we will continue to explore the opportunities for weekend working, we will look to increase site construction hours as the days get longer, we will advertise in the local press that Pier Road remains open for business, we will change fencing alignments wherever possible to create more room on footpaths and we will attempt to reopen sections of both road as soon as works are completed.
6. How do we know that the delays won’t increase further?
We are working with the best available information that we have at the current time. There is the potential for our forecast construction time on site to increase or decrease, depending on a number factors. We will always keep you updated on our scheduled construction programme.
7. What is Arun Parade/Pier Road going to look like through the summer?
The piling works will be complete and the large cranes will be off site. There will be on-going construction works of the concrete capping beam, retaining walls and public realm enhancements.
8. What are the effects of the delay? Where will they be felt?
The increase in the construction time means that Pier Road and Arun Parade will be closed through the summer. The project board agreed that this approach was preferable to closing down the site and remobilising after summer.
9. Will the road still be closed throughout the summer?
Pier Road and Arun Parade will remain closed to vehicular traffic over the summer (dependent on approval from the Highways Authority). We will do everything we can to minimise the impacts of the road closures.
Where possible we will undertake a staggered reopening when sections of the work are completed.
If we are able to we will realign the site perimeter fencing in places, in order to improve pedestrian access to the businesses on Pier Road and Arun Parade.
10. What is being done to restore public confidence in visiting Littlehampton?
We will continue to publicise that Pier Road and Arun Parade are open to visitors through various local media outlets. We welcome any ideas which you may have regarding publicising businesses in the local area.
11. Can’t you just close the works and start again at the end of the summer?
The decision was taken by the project board that in order to minimise disruption to residents, businesses and visitors, that site works will continue through the summer months. There was concern that closing the site, leaving the area half constructed, and returning later in the year would result in more disruption for local people.
This option has been assessed by the project team and discounted due to the following reasons;
· The piling is scheduled to be completed before the start of the summer, whilst the landscaping works would only be partially completed;
· There would be addition temporary works require making the site safe for the public (temporary handrail, surfacing), these works would be abortive and add to the project costs;
· Continuing through the summer brings opportunities to increase productivity due to increased daylight hours and better weather;
· Compensation will potentially cost more during the summer, but there are opportunities to minimise these costs by further advertising, and opening up completed sections.
My thanks to Andrew and the Project Team at the Environment Agency for taking the time out to update the Pier Road Diaries Readers.
To keep up with all the latest from Pier Road Diaries, make sure you sign up for regular updates by entering your email address in the top right hand corner of this page.
You can also follow Pier Road on Twitter @Pier_road