Engineers appointed by the Environment Agency have determined the cause of the failure of the Sutton Harbour pedestrian footbridge – enabling the next step of planning a timetable for repairs to get underway.
A detailed inspection of the bridge by the EA found that the bridge turntable failed because grease was not reaching all of the roller surfaces. The bearing and turntable mechanism of the bespoke bridge, fitted more than 20 years ago, will now need to be completely replaced.
In the interim, the footbridge (which enables the permissive path to be used) will remain closed to the public, to enable the Sutton Harbour lock gates to remain fully operational for marine traffic and to manage any flood risk, which is their main function.
To help people cross the harbour to reach the National Marine Aquarium and Rockfish restaurant from the Barbican Quarter whilst the bridge is closed, the Sutton Harbour Ferry Service introduced to cover the peak summer months is being extended, and will run during September and October.
Pete Bromley, Harbour Master of Sutton Harbour, said: “The results of the inspection and testing by EA engineers are a step forward in identifying the cause of the problem, while ruling out any other potential failings in the bridge and lock gates mechanisms. It means Sutton Harbour Holdings plc can now move forward and discuss with the EA a plan for assessing the specification and timescales for fabricating the replacement parts for the bearing and turntable and carrying out the repairs.
“Because the footbridge is a custom-designed piece of equipment installed as part of the lock gates 20 years ago, any replacement part has to be manufactured especially for it, which means there is no quick-fix solution available.
“We appreciate that the lock bridge closure causes an inconvenience to many visitors and residents in the area, as well as some of our key local businesses, so we are working closely with Silverline Cruises to organise an extension to the summer ferry service, to help people cross from the Fishing Quarter to the Barbican more easily”
The water ferry service was introduced at the start of the summer after Sutton Harbour Holdings plc invested in installing landing stages and infrastructure to support the operation, and SHH plc also subsidised the service during the peak summer months and school holiday period.
Silverline Cruises will now continue to operate the service independently for the remainder of September and, if there is a demand for it, during October.
Sutton Harbour will again subsidise the service during October half term and for the Plymouth Seafood Festival in September.
The ferry operates from 9.30am - 7pm, Monday to Sunday, crossing between Lockyers Quay and West Pier by the Mayflower Steps. There is a small charge of £1 per person each way or £1.50 return, with children under 5 travelling for free, which goes directly to the ferry operators.
Both the National Marine Aquarium and Rockfish restaurant discount the cost of the ferry tickets from customers’ bills in the restaurant, NMA shop and café.
Alternatively, there is a walking route around the harbour which accessible via the Harbour Heritage Trail with a footpath circling around East Quay and North Quay (see map below).