After writing an email of despair to BW about that bloody bridge I received this diatribe that is ‘supposedly’ from the designer.
The technical solution is a departure to how we would normally automate bridges. We have tried very hard to minimise the visual impact.
And design a system which will be user friendly, quick to use, and relatively cheap and easy to maintain. I appreciate that the system appears overkill compared to how the bridge is currently operated, however, because the system involves an external power source and a PLC controller, it has to comply with various statutory regulations under UK and EU law. Normally, bridge automation under BW current standards would require far more disruption and cost i.e. a 3 phase supply, a large kiosk with control panel and HPU in addition to the user pedestals. Due to the bridge being classed as an accommodation bridge BW are not required by law to install wigwags and barriers.
The bridge control system is confined to two pedestals which are relatively unobtrusive, and a hydraulic ram which is installed in a pit below ground and hidden from view. The mechanised scheme is considered to be the most efficient means of providing safe operation and is an inexpensive solution in the scheme of things.
The time period for a boat passing through the bridge should be little more than the current manual operation in time (perhaps another minute or two). However, the benefit is that a single boater can pass through in safety by being able to operate the bridge from either side of the canal using the available moorings on either side of the canal. Currently, boaters rely on helpful bystanders because the moorings either side of the bridge are on opposite sides of the canal and this could take more time if the area happens to be quiet or people are busy. If they use home made bridge operating sticks, ropes etc, these are neither safe nor good for the bridge which suffers deterioration each time the deck is dropped causing damage to the abutment and the bridge.
Single boat users will find the mechanised operation useful since they will not need to look for people to operate the bridge for them, although social interaction is not necessarily excluded from the operation. Whilst many boat users will enjoy using the manual bridge, the manual effort may be too much for some and these people will probably enjoy operating the new mechanised bridge. By removing the manual handling aspect of bridge operation, the risk to the public and boat users of associated injury is reduced. BW are trying to upgrade all assets to ensure they meet minimum safety standards and assets which have a record of injury are top of the list.
What a load of sphericals! A poorly written, ill informed, full of ‘flim flam’ justification for spending a shed load of money that would be better spent elsewhere.