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Environment Agency Sea defence proposals for Littlehampton

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A huge thank-you to Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency for providing these superb behind-the-scenes pictures. A number of them have been taken from a basket hanging from one of the cranes.

(Click on the pictures to super-size them)

Littlehampton Sea DefencesA bird’s-eye view of Littlehampton’s East Bank Flood Defences Scheme under construction.

Construction of Littlehampton's Sea DefencesAmazing view of the entrance to Littlehampton Harbour, Littlehampton’s iconic Lighthouse and the boardwalk loved by so many.

Aran Parade 5

The area behind the piling at Littlehampton’s Arun Parade all ready for backfilling and them a cap will be built on top raising the level of the sea defences.

Arun ParadeThe area being backfilled.

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe giant especially created Crane Bridge/Platform which will carry the 136tonne crane along Pier Road while it undertakes the piling works. One side of this giant bridge will sit on Pier Road with the other sitting on the recently installed piles. It will work it’s way along Pier Road North with the crane sitting on top. Quite a sight when it’s up and running,which we hope will be tomorrow (Tuesday, 25th February 2014).

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe giant crane’s plaform which sits on wooden sleepers.

constucting Littlehampton's sea defencesThe Piling hammer which drives the piles into the river bed.

Thanks again to Andrew from the Environment Agency and to VolkerStevin for allowing me to use these pictures on the Pier Road Diaries. As always, thanks to Eric Smethurst,Volker Stevin’s public liaison manager for providing us and all the visitors to the scheme with updates and explanations and for answering my endless questions and the construction staff not minding my poking my camera at them.

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Make sure you visit Littlehampton Seafront to see history being made. This is once-in-a-lifetime event and we’re now entering the most exciting part of the scheme’s construction.

As always, thanks for reading and following.

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Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 2The massive £400,000 Crane Bridge is currently being installed in Pier Road.

This enormous structure will carry the crane along Pier Road as it drives in each pile.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 1Environment Agency’s sea defence contractor VolkerStevin appeared to have overcome, what has so far proved the greatest engineering challenge in the construction of  Littlehampton’s Sea Defences by creating this £400,000 crane bridge. You can read more about why the Crane Bridge has been needed here.

The Bridge has been especially created to carry the weight of the Crane along Pier Road while keeping weight off Pier Road by straddling the road and sitting on the piling structures.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 8Here you can see the new crane bridge in position and being worked on to get it ready.

Once finished the crane will sit on this platform and will work it’s way along Pier Road.

Crane in Pier RoadOnce ready, this crane will be driven onto the Crane Bridge where it will begin the piling works in Pier Road. It’s a challenging job as once each ‘gateway of piles’ are driven in their final home in the river bed, the bridge will then have to be moved forward onto to these piles to begin on the next batch.

Piling gateThis is the ‘piling gate’ which the piles are loaded into before being driven into the ground.

Sea Defence construction Arun Parade 8Piles being driven into the ground, which have been loaded into the piling gate.

As you can see, it’s not an easy, or a quick task and when you see the sheer logistical problems you get an idea as why the project has been delayed so much.

Look and Sea!Littlehampton’s Look and Sea! Centre’s iconic viewpoint framed by the new Crane bridge.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 6Work underway today (Wednesday, 19th February 2014) on installing the new crane bridge.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane Bridge 3The sheer size of this new crane bridge has to been seen in the ‘flesh’ to understand how vast it is. It will be an amazing sight to see the Crane on top of this bridge, and if Littlehampton ever needed a new visitor attraction, then this is it.

VolkerStevin have indicated that they expect Piling works to be completed in Pier Road by May 2014. Only once the piling has been completed can the works begin on the back filling and concreting necessary to create the actual ‘wall’ and capping that will sit both behind and above the piles.

It’s a long, challenging difficult engineering process.

Littlehampton Sea Defence Piling worksMeanwhile piling work continues at the harbour entrance. If you pop up there you can great views of what’s happening as you can in Pier Road.

Come and witness history being made.

One of a number of reasons given by the contractor for the ongoing delay in the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences is – the lack of Welders.

With a £14 million sea defence contract you’d imagine that with that sort of budget, you could afford to hire a few decent welders.

Apparently not, it seems as a lack of welders is being blamed as one of the reasons for the ongoing delays in completion of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences.

This and the more worrying fact that VolkerStevin (and/or consulting engineers associated with the project) have managed to seriously underestimate the strength of Pier Road to take their crane.

It appears that the original surveys of Pier Road were fundamentally flawed and where they originally concluded that the road was strong enough to stand the crane on ‘crane mats’,  they’ve now subsequently discovered that the road isn’t strong enough to do this.

And if they had gone ahead with their original plan, they explained this would potentially lead to: ” a catastrophic slip circle failure of the existing structure.”

Roughly translated –  Pier Road could potentially slide into the River Arun.

Not exactly encouraging confidence.

However the good news is that Dutch engineering giant VolkerStevin have now figured out a way of getting themselves quite literally out of a hole by building a specially adapted ‘crane bridge’ on which to sit their crane during the piling works.

And the costs of this unexpected creation – a staggering £400,00.

So, how’s work going on building this bridge?

In a scene reminiscent  of something from ‘Death of a Salesman‘, I watched and listened as VolkerStevin’s Site Manager explained that their welders had walked off the job. ‘I’m not running a labour camp,’ he explained to the astonished meeting. ‘We can’t just keep them there,’ he said exasperated.

And why did they walk off the job?

“They weren’t happy with the conditions…”

Further revelations in response to questions from Pier Road Traders revealed that VolkerStevin have only, and this is an approximation, 20 people actually working onsite.

Remember we’re talking a budget of £14 million here. Actually £14m plus the £400k overspend as someone got their calculations seriously wrong.

It was then brought to their attention that all of these welding woes could have been avoided had VolkerStevin employed Littlehampton’s own reliable  Littlehampton Welding company, which enjoys an enviable reputation worldwide.

And it just so happens this superb company’s HQ is located just a few steps from VolkerStevin’s site office in Littlehampton harbour.

There’s no explanation as to why Littlehampton Welding weren’t used, but I find it unacceptable that with £14 million being spent on this project, a local Littlehampton company were not used and we’re left at the mercy of unhappy welders who simply walk off site.

So, at the moment, there’s no piling work being undertaken in Pier Road as we’re still waiting for this bridge to be built.

As you’d expect VolkerStevin brochure is full of the sort of corporate bullshit you’d expect from big companies like these.

Announcing on the front page of their website  – ‘clever engineering’. (but apparently not clever enough to spot what is obvious to even the seagulls that Pier Road has an appalling road surface and has been crumbling away for years – something that the traders from Pier Road highlighted to their ‘clever engineers’ when we met during the consultation process.

“VolkerStevin provides complex engineering solutions across a wide range of sectors including civil engineering, land remediation and regeneration, water and marine infrastructure and flood and coastal protection.”

Conveniently on page 7 of the VolkerStevin brochure they declare: ‘SET US A CHALLENGE’

Here’s one guys – find a welding company in Littlehampton – clue – they’re right next to your site offices.

You couldn’t make this sort of stuff up.

This may actually beat’s Arun District Councillor’s Paul Dendle’s hilarious declaration via Twitter, where he ‘announced there were no material delays with the scheme and we’d be finished on target in July.

This when the Project team had already announced they were four weeks behind, and this announcement came six weeks prior to Councillor Dendle’s announcement….

Incidentally, despite, as I’ve been led to believe being invited to this meeting, Councillor Dendle didn’t attend and neither were apologies or any explanation offered. This from Arun District Council’s Flood Defence Chief.

I wonder if he’s any good at welding?

 

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