Work Begins On Thames Locks Improvement Projects

The Environment Agency has started work on its yearly programme of investment on the locks of the River Thames, a £2.1 million scheme that will help to support both recreational and commercial boating along the 135 miles of river, work that began on October 29th.

Major projects will be carried out at five of the 45 lock sites that the Agency owns and operates, with the work due to continue into March next year so as to avoid the peak boating months and minimise the amount of disruption to those using the river.

At Teddington Lock in Teddington, Middlesex, for example, the concrete-lined lock chamber of the launch lock is set to be refurbished. Costing £450,000. And at Caversham Lock in Reading, the concrete-lined lock chamber also needs work, which will cost £400,000.

In all, four new gates are needed for Day’s Lock in Little Wittenham near Abingdon in Oxfordshire, while Rushey Lock in Buckland Marsh near Faringdon needs to have the facing timber and balance beams on all four lock gates replaced.

Further work is being undertaken on the concrete sill beneath the tail gates at Cookham Lock, while the Agency is also going to be carrying out structural surveys of the lock chambers at King’s Lock near Wolvercote.

River Thames waterways manager Barry Russell said: “This year’s £2.1 million programme of work is one of the most extensive for some time. The work our specialist navigation engineers, craftsmen and contractors will carry out is absolutely vital.

“It will directly support both recreational and commercial boating on the Thames, and indirectly support the many thousands of businesses along the river sustained by the spending power of our boating customers. That’s not just marinas, boat yards and chandleries, but shops, hotels, restaurants, pubs, visitor attractions and so on.”

Similarly, Highways England recently published updated plans for the Lower Thames Crossing, which has been expanded to provide six lanes of traffic in a tunnel under the Thames. The idea is that the crossing will nearly halve the northbound crossing times at the Dartford Crossing. If the proposals are pushed through as planned, the Lower Thames Crossing will connect the M2 in Kent with the M25 in Essex.

The 2.4-mile tunnel beneath the river will be the longest road tunnel in the UK, but – naturally – the budget for the scheme has risen and now stands at between £5.3 billion and £6.8 billion.

Project director Tim Jones described it as the most ambitious of its kind ever here in the UK, adding that there will be a user charge for travelling through the tunnel – although there may be a variable charge instead of a flat rate.

If you’re interested in finding out more about structural strengthening, get in touch with us here at Freyssinet today.