Ipswich: Abseiling workers inspect Orwell Bridge

IPSWICH: A group of surveyors with a head for heights carried out vital inspection work on the Orwell Bridge by abseiling down part of the giant structure.

Specialist roped-access inspectors from the Highways Agency carried out the inspection work yesterday at the Suffolk landmark.

Principal inspections of the 1,287 metre-long bridge are carried out every six years to assess the condition of the structure.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency explained they have to check every inch of the underside of the bridge.

He said: “The inspection includes all internal surfaces of the bridge and all 18 spans, 11 of which are above water.

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“The surveyors are looking at the condition of the concrete surface of the bridge for any adverse effect caused by weathering, salt damage, cracks, any structural deterioration as well as the condition of bird netting to protect the bridge.

“Six abseilers have been carrying out these inspections for the last three weeks at night under fluorescent lights, during late November/early December.

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“This lighting is better at showing contrast than normal daylight, but inspections will also take place during the daytime using a mobile elevated platform and abseilers in January 2011.

“We are carrying out this work during the winter months as the inspection work is not actually weather dependant.

“The summer months are utilised to undertake resurfacing work, where milder weather is needed for the material used, but the principal inspection work requires no material and is mostly internal so workers can carry out the inspection in any weather.”

The Orwell Bridge provides a vital transport link for lorries journeying to the Port of Felixstowe.

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