‘Adverse’ weather delays bridge repairs and opening of new visitor centre
Nicholas Thomas Local Democracy Reporter
Building work on a new multi-million pound visitor centre for an iconic landmark bridge has hit delays because of bad weather and strict health and safety rules.
Work is ongoing to build a new centre and perform maintenance on Newport’s historic Transporter Bridge, which is one of the few of its kind still in existence.
The scale of the repair work, coupled with a sensitive “monitoring system” for contractors below, means “all work has to stop on the site” – including work inside the visitor centre – if an overhead hazard is detected.
That, and “adverse” weather, had proved obstacles to getting the project finished, officers told Newport City Council’s performance scrutiny committee for place and corporate, on Monday (December 11).
Chairman Mark Howells said the committee had been “told in July” the visitor centre “would be open in November”.
“We laughed and joked about it several times – that’s nowhere near happening, and we’re past November,” he added.
Tracey Brooks, the council’s head of regeneration and economic development, said the project was “really important” and its scale and nature meant delays were “almost inevitable, in a way”.
Council officers were unable to give the committee a “backstop date” for completion, but a new report shows the project’s estimated completion date could be spring 2025.
Committee member Chris Reeks asked whether the local authority was “going to be hit with further costs”.
An officer told him any delays caused by work having to stop had “not played into additional costs to the council”.
The bridge repairs and visitor centre would be “an enormously complex and difficult project to deliver”, he added.
The council forked out an extra £3 million on the visitor centre project in 2022 after new contractors had to be appointed.
Owing to “worsening market conditions” at the time, total project costs rose from £11.9m to £16.9m, with the National Lottery Heritage Fund agreeing to increase its funding for the project, to help cover the increase.
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