M27 Hamble Bridge: 'Environmental disaster' fear are expressed - when roadworks will be complete

Fears have been expressed that an environmental disaster could happen because of the way a motorway bridge in Hampshire is built.
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It comes as the expected survey on the M27 bridge that runs over the river Hamble, between junctions 8 and 9, is delayed until early 2024. There is a long-running fear over polluted water coming off the M27 and draining into the Hamble River will continue for a time. Fears exist that a spill coming from an accident involving petrol or diesel could have devastating environmental consequences. Councillor Rod Cooper says in previous meetings that the M27 drainage problem has persisted for 20 years.

For that reason, the River Hamble Harbour Authority’s (RHHA) environment and development manager (EDM) asked National Highways, formerly known as Highways England, for an update on the M27 bridge drainage feasibility study, which was due in September 2023 but had yet to be submitted. In response, National Highways said that due to “issues” relating to the re-assessment to increase the load carrying capacity, they are “unable” to provide a deadline for this document as “older bridges are notoriously difficult to assess/strengthen”.

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The government agency said: “We are progressing with the replacement of both parapets.

Work is being carried out on the M27 bridgeWork is being carried out on the M27 bridge
Work is being carried out on the M27 bridge

“With respect to the other structural works, our consultant has developed the options report in draft format for replacement of waterproofing, large bridge deck joints, replacement of the protective paint system on the steel beams, concrete repairs to abutments (end supports) and the collection of surface water from the bridge via suspended piped drainage discharging into the proposed upgraded surface water outlets. We have however had issues with respect to the re-assessment to increase the load carrying capacity enabling the structure to carry abnormal load vehicles with no restrictions which is proving a challenge. This is being reviewed by specialists and as such I am currently unable to provide a deadline at present as older bridges are notoriously difficult to assess/strengthen.

“The above comprehensive structures report was due to be issued in November 2023, however subject to reconciliation of the above assessment is more likely to be early 2024. We still however hope to progress into design in 24/25 as per programme.”

National Highways’ designated funds programme has a scheme for the Hamble Bridge planned for feasibility in 2022/23, design in 2023/24 and construction in 2024/25, subject to securing funding approval for each stage. The timeline set out at the meeting between National Highways and the river authority established that in the 2022/2023 financial year, Jacobs [the contractor] was instructed to undertake the feasibility study and costings. The update will be debated at the River Hamble Management Committee (December 8).