BAM’s construction barge ‘Skerchi’ starts river piling works at Waterford Sustainable Transport Bridge

BAM reached a significant milestone in the progress of the Sustainable Transport Bridge in Waterford this week, as their construction barge ‘Skerchi’ was towed into place to begin piling works for the four bridge pier foundations.

The Sustainable Transport Bridge will connect the North Quays to the heart of Waterford centre, providing access for pedestrians, bicycles, and a courtesy bus service. It will support Waterford’s economic, tourism and sustainable development, and the creation of a vibrant core centred on the river.

The piers require construction of a cofferdam, a watertight enclosure to allow construction work below the waterline. The cofferdam will be created by driving interlocking piles through the bed of the River Suir to form the watertight enclosures. The water is then pumped out of the cofferdam, so the construction of the pier foundations can commence.

Waterford - BAM

Senior Engineer with Waterford City and County Council, Sean Dobbs said:

“Accuracy is a critical factor in the pile driving process. To achieve such precision, site engineers are surveying precise positions and are in constant radio contact with the bargemaster. Temporary ‘spud’ piles will be initially driven, and a guide frame attached to guide the driving of permanent piles. 

“Once the permanent piles have been driven, the temporary ‘spud’ piles are removed, the barge is realigned, and the process repeats until the cofferdam is complete.”

The ‘Skerchi’ is currently anchored on the south side of the river to create a stable working platform, as a 250 tonne crane drives steel piles into the riverbed. The barge will then be towed by tugboat to the north side of the river to create the cofferdams for the two piers on the north side. This will allow river navigation to continue along the central navigation channel.