Reasons behind Transporter Bridge closure revealed after concerns raised

Stretched cables and structural defects are behind the extended closure of Teesside’s Transporter Bridge.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Sunday, 29th December 2019, 10:43 pm
The Transporter bridge. Picture c/o PA.
The Transporter bridge. Picture c/o PA.

The bridge was closed in July and the reasons why were revealed at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Monday December 23.

Councillor Dennis McCabe, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for environment, told councillors suspension wires carrying the gondola on the 108-year-old bridge had been stretched and needed to be replaced.

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But he explained the staff employed on the bridge weren’t qualified to do the work – meaning contractors had to be drafted in.

He also told the chamber of welding troubles uncovered after the council took on the bridge’s maintenance programme.

Councillor McCabe said: “We found some structural defects in some members of the steelwork that had been attached years ago by welding.

“As an engineer myself, you try and replace with the same method.

“We couldn’t put rivets in – but we could have put high tensile rivet bolts in.

“You put welds on a structure which will move and contract through linear contraction – and them welds will eventually break.

“If they’d bolted it, you would have a bit of movement and you wouldn’t have the problems with structural defects.”

Work was carried out on the Grade II-listed bridge in 2012 after cracks were found in the rail tracks on the upper booms of the structure.

Welding repairs were carried out that year.

Details of the bridge’s problems were revealed after a question from Councillor Ron Arundale – who shared worries about the long closure.

“I find this quite concerning given that eight years ago the bridge was thoroughly overhauled as part of its centenary,” he said.

“I think it’s very worrying they’ve found major structural problems having had all that money spent on it at the time.”

Despite the troubles, Coun McCabe was confident the bridge would be reopened in the new year.

The Transporter Bridge has an overall length of 851 feet, making it the longest remaining transporter bridge in the world.