Often described as the gateway to the UK, the Port of Dover is one of the busiest ferry ports in the world handling around 160km of freight traffic every day, amounting to £80 billion of trade each year.
Coping with the high volume of traffic is no easy task and requires expert management and ongoing major investment. Last year, a multimillion pound Traffic Management Improvement project was initiated in order to reduce congestion within the Port and on the external road network.
As part of the development, a number of redundant buildings have been demolished, making way for a new holding area with a capacity to hold up to 220 freight vehicles. This facility is anticipated to be utilised mainly at peak times when the volume of traffic entering the port exceeds the capacity of one or more ferry operators at the check-in facility.
“This facility enables us to get traffic off the road and into the port so that we can better manage it; it will give us much needed elbow room”, says Nigel Bodell, Head of Infrastructure and Development at the Port of Dover. “Not only will we be able to better manage vehicles leaving the country, the improved facilities will also benefit the UK Border Force that monitors those coming in.
“This is the most important project we have got at the moment because it has such a big influence on our capacity going forward and how we can manage our operations.”
Phased over nine concurrent stages and scheduled for completion in 2015, the development has been carefully planned to cause as little disruption as possible to the port’s day to day operations. “Keeping all the traffic running as smoothly as possible has been the main priority,” says Nigel.
Phase one has included minor demolition works and the diversion and installation of utility services and rearrangement of other essential port operational facilities. Phase two, which has been running from late 2012, has included the refurbishment of the ground floor of an existing building inside the port. This phase will also include demolition of a section of a bridge and two canopies.
Several contractors have been involved in the demolition and remodelling works at the Port of Dover, including international construction services company ISG. Speaking about the development, ISG’s South East Managing Director, Ian Gifford, commented: “Changing trends have meant that the large passenger terminal at the Port of Dover, which predominantly catered for passengers travelling on foot, is now underused. However, the volume of commercial traffic has multiplied significantly over recent years and there is an urgent requirement for upgraded facilities at the Port.
“This is an asset optimisation project that will allow our client to align greater use of the available space to current and future demand. ISG’s experience of managing large-scale projects in a complex live environment situation will prove essential in the successful outcome of this infrastructure upgrade.”
Phase three and four of the development are currently underway and include a variety of civil engineering and paving works to construct new improved facilities for the Border Agencies. Work will also include relocation of operational facilities from the buildings to be demolished to the new facilities.
Moving forward to the back end of 2013 and through to 2014, phase five will include demolition of the Travel Centre and No1 Control Building. Phase six will include civil engineering and paving works to reinstate the areas of the former buildings and to construct some of the new facilities such as the coach drop-off and pick-up areas.
Phase seven will include demolition of the remaining part of the bridge deck from Phase 2. The penultimate phase will see civil engineering and paving works for the new traffic routes into the Port and the new temporary holding area. The final phase will include the installation of a remotely controlled variable message signage system.
In addition to improving operational efficiency, the development is also set to enhance the Port visually and environmentally.
“The Port will look a lot more like a modern facility when the improvements are complete. The closure of the older buildings will result in less electric and heating used, saving money and benefitting the environment”, says Nigel.
With a project of this size and with the use of heavy machinery throughout, consideration for the local community has been of chief concern.
“With all our projects, including Traffic Management Improvement, we endeavor to speak to everyone who may be affected, from the local community and those who live in the vicinity of the Port through to traders and the relevant regulatory bodies,” says Barbara Buczek, Head of Business Development and Corporate Affairs at the Port of Dover. “We understand and appreciate the need to maintain an environment which has the best interests of the local area at heart.”
Throughout the project, and wherever possible, the Port has been employing the use of equipment that reduces dust and noise and, where heavy machinery has been necessary, every effort is being made to ensure that the work is completed as quickly and efficiently as is practicable. Work is being timed to fit in with regular working hours so as not to disturb residents during the evenings and weekends.
There has also been an added benefit for the local economy as many contractors are staying for a prolonged time period and they have been using accommodation, dining and other facilities in the area.
The development is currently on schedule for completion in 2015, for more information visit www.doverport.co.uk.