28 July 2020

TB1

Plymouth Citybus are running a new shuttle service across the Tamar Bridge from the 1st August:

Like other key transport providers across the country we have been working hard during the coronavirus pandemic to continue to carry out essential engineering and maintenance work to ensure that our crossings remain in remains in a safe and serviceable condition.

We have been working closely with our contractors to ensure that Government guidance on safe working practices have been followed on all construction projects. This has included implementing social distancing measures and robust hand hygiene practices. We are also rigorously applying the Site Operating Procedures issued by the Construction Leadership Council.

Next phase of kerb replacement works

One of the key projects continuing during the past few months is the scheme to carry out essential engineering works to replace the bridge deck waterproofing system underneath the kerbs and to replace the bolts that fix the kerbs in place. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic our engineering team have had to amend the scheduled programme on a number of occasions to meet the latest Government guidance.

In May the kerb replacement works were moved to the north cantilever deck, rather than onto the main deck as previously planned. This ensured all users could continue to safely use the bridge while our team complied with the Government guidance in place at that time.

Work on the north cantilever is due to be completed on 1 August. After detailed consideration of the latest Government advice it has been decided to continue with the next phase of the project to ensure that this vital scheme is carried out as quickly as possible. This means moving the works onto the main deck.

As this will temporarily reduce the number of lanes on the main deck from three to two, we are introducing some significant new traffic management arrangements to keep the bridge operating as smoothly as possible at the same time as ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and engineering staff.

As well as re-opening the north cantilever, we need to use the south cantilever for westbound traffic which would previously have been using one of the lanes on the main deck. This means closing the south cantilever lane to pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters and re-instating the free shuttle bus service.

Having reviewed the operation of the shuttle bus during the previous closure of the south cantilever and analysed the feedback from service users, we have introduced a number of changes to make it easier and more efficient to use the service at the same time as ensuring it meets the latest Government guidance.

This means that, in addition to operating the free shuttle bus 24 hours a day, seven days a week as previously, we will be working with Plymouth Citybus to run a scheduled bus service.

The aim of the new service, which will provide two additional buses during the day and one bus during the evening and at weekends, is to enable pedestrians to cross the bridge and maintain social distancing, while also providing space inside the buses for class 1 and 2 mobility scooters and a small number of bikes.

The buses will run every 15 minutes between 06:00-19:00hrs during the day and every 30 minutes overnight. The service will also be supported by Plymouth Citybus’s Customer Experience Team who will be hand to answer any public enquiries and full timetables.

In line with current Government advice on travelling on public transport people using both the shuttle buses and the Plymouth Citybus service will be required to wear face coverings.

We would advise all pedestrians, cyclists and those using mobility scooters to use either the shuttle bus or the Plymouth Citybus service (which enables them to take their vehicles in the bus with them) to cross the bridge. This is particularly important for cyclists as it helps them to avoid the unnecessary hazard of cycling through the heavy traffic on the bridge during their morning and evening commutes.

We will be reviewing both services throughout the programme of works on the main deck and will make adjustments if necessary.

While we recognise that the closure of one of the lanes on the main deck will inevitably have an impact on local traffic, the current levels of traffic are still well below the normal levels for this time of year. This will help to minimise any delays.

Continuing with the project will also help provide employment for local workers and generate income for local suppliers, as well as avoiding any potential financial costs from delaying the contract.

Thank you for your patience and support while we carry out these essential engineering works. We will continue to closely monitor site progress, the wider coronavirus situation and the latest Government advice.

Despite the Twitter announcement it seems the full timetable is not yet available on the Citybus web site but I am sure it will be very shortly! I believe the intention is to use the Brighton Scania DDs on this service, but plans can and do change.

Tamar Bridges from Saltash Passage

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