It’s here! The bearing that’s crucial to reopening Sutton Harbour lock footbridge is now in the Westcountry.
The one tonne bearing, measuring 1.5metres in diameter was flown from the United States, where it was manufactured, and has been driven from Luton airport to our contractor’s premises.
Now the final preparations are getting under way for the complex engineering project to install the bearing.
Plymouth City Council, the Environment Agency and Sutton Harbour Company are contributing equally to the more than £250,000 cost of the repair to the custom-built footbridge which crosses Sutton Lock. The repairs are coordinated and commissioned by Council engineers.
The bearing was ordered last year and was made by a specialist manufacturer in the United States after approaches to local engineering companies were declined.
Council Leader Tudor Evans said: “This is not an easy job. I don’t mind saying it’s tense. This bearing weighs a tonne and once in place, will act like a turntable. The inner ring of the bearing has to be attached to the underside of the footbridge, while the outer ring has to be attached to the foundation plinth.
“This footbridge is so important to Plymouth and to business in the waterfront area as well as residents.”
The lock is currently open to marine traffic and most of the work – which is expected to take a number of weeks – will take place without any impact on the boats getting in and out of Sutton Harbour.
Testing the mechanism as well as ensuring all the electronics and hydraulics also work with the new bearing may create some minor disruption but the contractors will be asked to work within specific time frames and harbour users will be kept informed.
The pedestrian footbridge across Sutton Lock was fitted more than 20 years ago as part of the installation of the harbour lock gates. The lock gate’s main function is to manage flood risk and allow marine traffic, including fishing boats and leisure boats, to enter Sutton Harbour.
The bridge was closed to pedestrians after the old bearing failed meaning the turntable could not operate. The lock gates remain fully operational to enable fishing boats and leisure boats to access the harbour.