It is fairly rare to see a large floating crane at work in the UK, but this week the 1,800 tonne Matador 3 floating crane lifted two 700 tonne bridge bascules into place on the new Third River Crossing in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk on England’s east Anglian coast. Nick Johnson was there to witness it.
Now named The Herring Bridge in recognition of Great Yarmouth’s fishing industry heritage, the new £121 million structure is being built by the BAM/Farrans Joint Venture. For the big lifts, the contractors selected the Matador 3 seagoing floating sheer legs from Bonn & Mees in Rotterdam. Built in 2002, the Matador 3’s pontoon is 70 metres long by 32 metres wide and the vessel’s gross tonnage is 3,898 tonnes.
It can lift up to 1,800 tonnes on the 50.3 metre main boom at distance of five metres from the front of the barge, whilst the 33 metre upper boom or jib can luff up to 40 degrees. When the jib is in line with the main boom as it was for this job it can take 900 tonnes to a hook height of almost 80 metres and a distance of 10 metres from the front edge of the barge.
The 62 by 20 metre bridge leaves were fabricated in Belgium and transported across the North Sea to Great Yarmouth on SMIT barges. The installation operation required a 72 hour closure of the River Yare and each leaf had to be carefully lowered into place on the trunnion bearing supports where there was a tolerance of only 3mm.
Commendably, the contractors established public viewing areas on each side of the river enabling the many interested people to watch the big lifts from a position of safety with a good view.
The Herring Bridge which links the busy A47 road to the Port of Great Yarmouth and adjacent Enterprise Zone, is due to open later this year and is expected to ease traffic congestion and help with the economic regeneration of this significant Norfolk town.