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Hopes Twin Sails Bridge will put troubled past behind it in 2013
As Poole’s £21.6million Twin Sails Bridge heads towards its first anniversary in 2013 it is to be hoped that the new year will see its problems put behind it.
It has been a troubled start for the structure which spans the Back Water Channel as it stuttered and stumbled through its first eight months.
The pride of Poole, the unique triangular sails structure which is the centrepiece of the town’s regeneration, has suffered a catalogue of “teething troubles” including problems with its operating system and hydraulics and drop down road barriers.
Its delayed opening on April 4, took place after a visit from the Princess Royal in March, amid work to resurface the lifting leaves after the road surface cracked and crumbled.
During its first months of operation, over a six week period from April 9 there were 15 occasions when it was closed to traffic.
And in the five months from the beginning of June and the end of October there were problems with the bridge on 23 separate occasions, ranging from issues with the barriers, to reduced hydraulic pressure, to software problems.
And it is not just motorists and cyclists who have been frustrated by the delays, boat owners who keep their craft in Holes Bay have also borne the brunt, with a reported 200 having given up their moorings and moved away.
A myriad of remedial works have been carried out, including replacing the valves which control all four of the barriers and repairs to the road surface.
But the problems have continued – with the bridge unexpectedly closed to traffic once again on Friday December 21 after a fuse went in the control circuit.
Under the terms of Hochtief’s contract, it is responsible for resolving any problems that arise for the first 12 months of the bridge being open – and it is currently bearing the cost of the repairs.
With a faltering eight months behind it, the council and the people of Poole can only hope for better for the bridge in 2013.
Cllr Graham Wilson, Deputy Mayor, Borough of Poole, said: “Opening the Twin Sails Bridge was the highlight of my Mayoral year and I took great pride in leading the Civic party in the first walk across the bridge.
“Watching the hundreds of local children perform at the official opening was truly wonderful and I am so proud to say I was Mayor of Poole when the Twin Sails Bridge opened to traffic.
Cllr Xena Dion, cabinet portfolio holder for transportation and local economy, Borough of Poole, said: “Having looked forward to a second harbour crossing for so many years it really is wonderful to have the Twin Sails Bridge open to traffic.
“Although we have experienced a few early teething problems with the operation of the bridge, these are very minimal against the success of the improved traffic flow between the town centre and Hamworthy. I am really optimistic for 2013 now people can see that Poole is very much open for business.”