South West

Bridging the gap in Poole’s regeneration

A £37m project is underway in Poole to create the world’s first twin triangular lifting bridge.

The Twin Sails Bridge will stretch from Wilkins Way in Poole to Hamworthy, allowing travel across the Backwater Channel.  It will become the second harbour crossing in the area.

Designed to look like a yacht, the bridge consists of two triangular shaped lifting leaves and comprises two carriageways, two footpaths and two cycle lanes. The lift spans are pivoted through 88 degrees by two hydraulic rams and early estimates predict that the bridge will lift 15 times per day. When the bridge is not in operation, small vessels will pass freely underneath.

The 20-month project was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architect and follows an extensive campaign (including a 10,000 signature petition by local residents) to get an additional harbour crossing in the area.  When completed, the bridge will ease congestion and allow access to many areas of underused land.

Main contractors for the project are Hochitief (UK), whilst Gifford is the consulting engineer and Bennetts is the mechanical engineer.

The Department for Transport (DfT) approved a £15.34m grant to help fund the construction costs and the South West Regional Development Agency provided £9.96m as part of its Regional Infrastructure Fund. The remainder of funding came from the public and private sector.

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Mike Brooke, said: “This scheme will open up great opportunities for the town, helping to create much needed employment in these recessionary times.”

Hamside Residents Association Secretary, Ann Smeaton, added: “Hamworthy’s residents have been actively campaigning for a new bridge for nearly forty years.  For me, the official opening of the Twin Sails Bridge will be like ‘a dream come true’.”

The conception of the Twin Sails Bridge dates back to the 1980s when Dorset County Council conducted preliminary investigations and design work. It was a slow development process and it wasn’t until 2000 that the bid for a new harbour crossing was first made in the Local Transport Plan.

In 2002, the Twin Sails Bridge was the winning entry in an international design competition. The concept was chosen in order to provide an unobtrusive crossing that was aesthetically pleasing to the community.

The installation of the bridge is a vital step in Poole’s continued regeneration plan, which includes the redevelopment of 26 hectares of brownfield land. Once completed, the Twin Sails Bridge will help to connect the areas of land that are currently not in use.

This land is one of the largest regeneration areas in the South West and will provide the region with 5,000 jobs and 2,000 homes. Improvements will also be made to transport links and public areas in order to ensure continued growth for local businesses.

The continued increase of traffic in Poole is also a factor in the bridge’s construction. The Twin Sails Bridge will work with an existing bridge to allow unrestricted passage for boats, which will in turn significantly reduce congestion on the roads. Newly installed signs will divert traffic to whichever of the two bridges is open, solving any problems caused by the operation of the bridges.

The Twin Sails Bridge is scheduled to open in early 2012.


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