Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Work on River Thames Wharf Holds Promise for Water Borne Freight Development

Commercial Quay Coming Back to Life
Shipping News Feature
UK – We have often observed at how the River Thames is being reinvigorated through the services of the Port of London Authority (PLA) and other agencies. Commercial water borne transport declined steeply following the demise of the London Docks, and a river which was once thronged by barges carrying all manner of cargoes saw just pleasure craft and the occasional moment of excitement with the arrival of a tall ship or a regatta.

Now however, particularly with the huge quantities transported by barge in recent times for projects such as Crossrail and the London Olympics, the river is regaining some of its former status and the company responsible for the refurbishment of Standard Wharf, on the Thames at Erith, is confident that the new wharf design can be easily applied to other similar quay structures requiring redevelopment.

Idom Merebrook, the UK division of international engineering consultancy the Idom Group has been restoring Standard Wharf, which is an operational commercial jetty, and which has been granted special status as a ‘Safeguarded Wharf’ by the Mayor of London and the Port of London Authority to ensure it is retained as a working maritime site, ultimately protecting it from any redevelopment of non-port use.

The Derbyshire headquartered group has been working to a brief to both maximise the site’s commercial potential and restore it as a fully functional working quay, while minimising any impact on the surrounding natural environment, including nearby salt marshes and aquatic life. Following a feasibility report to assess the potential design options and address the marine planning and licensing requirements, the decision was taken to create a new quay structure along the property boundary line.

The new quay deck design is simple, cost-effective and works with the Thames’ tidal flow, with the potential of being easily adopted by other wharfs of this kind. The anticipated cargo vessel using the wharf is approximately 3,500 tonnes, requiring a draft depth below MHWS of 3 metres. Using the tidal flow, vessels can berth during high tide then as the water levels drop lay alongside until loaded and ready to sail to the next port.

At Standard Wharf the quay area development extends approximately 30 metres from the shore, constituting a pre-dredging upper level of approximately 1.5 metres below MHWS level. The quay deck will essentially be a structural ground slab, capable of supporting up to 30 kM/ m2 loading conditions, which will accommodate large mobile cranes and other heavy loading conditions.

A sheet piled wall will interface with the deck area and fenders will be attached to the sheet piled face. A capping beam will provide structural rigidity and structural support. Once completed, the wharf will be used as a storage area with the potential to build some light industrial units. The quay deck will connect to the existing onshore facility and will incorporate a method of post grouting to accommodate any differential settlement that occurs. Surface water that falls on the new development will be redirected back into the Thames River via petrol interceptors and tidal flap valves.

Idom Merebrook is currently overseeing geotechnical work including the upper tidal ground investigations, marine and terrestrial environmental monitoring has started and the team is consulting with sheet pile suppliers in order to find efficiencies in the design and construction of the wharf. Ramon Ramirez, Manager Director, Idom Merebrook commented:

“The team has taken a very innovative approach to the wharf design that is both simple and cost effective. The design principal could be easily become a blueprint for other quay developments of this kind, and may be applied to many other wharves along the Thames and indeed in other commercial maritime facilities. It is great to have this project underway and be involved in the re-development of a historic maritime trading site, which will be a massive boost to commercial operations on this part of the Thames Estuary.”