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Giant sections of the Twin Sails Bridge are being moved into place as Poole's second harbour crossing starts to take shape.
More than 500 tonnes of steel, including the two lifting leaves that will form the iconic Twin Sails structure, are being installed across Poole's Backwater Channel over the next few days.
The major engineering feat, being performed by contractors Hochtief (UK) Construction Ltd, marks the latest milestone in the £37 million project that will see the Twin Sails Bridge open in early 2012.
Each of the four sections will be lifted onto a barge using mobile transporters before being floated along the Backwater Channel.
Once in place, the sections will then be lowered into permanent position onto the bridge support structures using a combination of jacks, the barge's bouyancy and movement of the tides.
The operation to float the first of the 100ft lifting leaves into place will happen on Monday 18 July at approximately 4pm. A large section of the second leaf will be positioned on the bridge structure on Wednesday 20 July at approximately 5pm.
Ahead of the lifting leaves being moved into position, a section of the bridge deck will be installed on the Backwater Channel on Saturday 16 July at approximately 2.30pm.
Members of the public will be able to watch the operations at close quarters from the public viewing area on West Quay Road. Alternatively, people can now watch time-lapse images of on-site progress on the Twins Sails Bridge via the internet at www.pooletwinsails.co.uk.
Cllr Elaine Atkinson, Leader of the Council, Borough of Poole, said:
"This is an exciting stage of construction as we can now see the Twin Sails Bridge really starting to take shape. We hope people will share in this historic moment by watching this feat of precision engineering as it happens from the public viewing area we've provided in West Quay Road."
The bridge deck and lifting leaves are made up of 41 separate sections of steel which have been welded together on-site over recent months. To allow the bridge sections to be moved into place, the Backwater Channel will be closed to marine traffic from 8am to 6pm on Monday 18 and Wednesday 20 July.
Jim Bright, Strategic Director, Borough of Poole said:
"Moving more than 500 tonnes of steel safely from dry land to the Backwater Channel is a huge technical challenge. The sheer scale and complexity of this engineering operation is remarkable and unlike anything we've witnessed before in Poole.
"It's vital that the contractors can carry out this work in a clear channel. The safety of local mariners and construction staff is paramount and we hope to keep any disruption to a minimum."
When it opens in early 2012, the Twin Sails Bridge will provide critical infrastructure for 26 hectares of brownfield land, unlocking one of the largest regeneration sites in the South West. Over the next 10 to 15 years, this project is expected to deliver 2,000 homes, and create up to 5,000 jobs.