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News - 29/11/16

Works planned to prepare for new Chain Ferry

Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) has issued a works licence to the Isle of Wight Council for alterations to be made to the current Cowes Chain Ferry slipways at both East and West Cowes to ensure the suitability and longevity of the new floating bridge, due to come into service at the end of March 2017.

The slipways upgrade project is planned to commence on Tuesday, 3rd January 2017 and is programmed to last approximately 12 weeks. Whilst these works are taking place a replacement launch service will be provided for foot passengers.

The works will be carried out by the IW Council’s appointed contractor GeoMarine and will involve the removal of the current surfaces, relocation of the northern chain and resurfacing of the slipways. In addition, there will be extensive works to the slipway foundations, the adjacent retaining walls and some minor refurbishing of the passenger waiting areas.

New floating bridge
CHC is in discussions with the IW Council regarding navigational safety, including potential additional warning lights to give mariners notification that the Chain Ferry is on the move and modifications to Chain Ferry operating procedures to accommodate the new vessel’s requirements.

As reported by the IW Council on 17th November, the construction of the new £3.5 million floating bridge, funded by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, progresses at pace, although there have been a few technical and design challenges to overcome and the vessel will now be finished by mid-February 2017.

On completion, the 260 tonne vessel, which has been built by Mainstay Marine Solutions Limited at Pembroke Dock, Wales, will be towed from Pembroke Dock to the Isle of Wight; this is estimated to take six days but will of course be subject to the prevailing weather conditions.

The new floating bridge will have a number of benefits, including an increased capacity and improved facilities:
• The new bridge is designed to be much more fuel-efficient.
• It will carry more vehicles and bikes.
• The new bridge will be much more reliable and require less maintenance.
• The new vessel will be able to do up to 5 knots, meaning faster, more regular crossings.
• With glass sides, better facilities and technology, crossing the river on the new bridge will be a more enjoyable experience for passengers.

Decommissioning and sale of old floating bridge
The current floating bridge was built in 1975 and came into service on the River Medina in 1976 transporting passengers and vehicles between Cowes and East Cowes. During its 40-year life it has operated 18 hours a day, 365 days a year, with a crossing time of no more than two-and-a-half minutes every 10 to 15 minutes. In recent years it has transported approximately 1.5 million pedestrians and 400,000 vehicles per year.

The vessel will make its last crossing on Monday, 2nd January 2017, before being moved to a nearby mooring on the River Medina until a buyer can be found. The IW Council has announced that it is currently inviting offers for its purchase and removal. An information pack containing copies of the original construction drawings, machinery details/layouts and a condition survey, together with a form of tender and the conditions of sale are available for anyone who wishes to make an offer to purchase the floating bridge. To request a pack and to find out more, contact Sean Newton (email: sean.newton@iow.gov.uk or phone: 01983 821000), no later than Friday, 16th December 2016.

For further information please visit: www.iwfloatingbridge.co.uk.