Massive 380 tonne section of Gull Wing bridge arrives from Belgium

The NAV1 section makes its way through the Bascule bridge in Lowestoft.

The NAV1 section makes its way through the Bascule bridge in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

It was an historic occasion as the first major section of the new Gull Wing bridge made a welcome arrival in Lowestoft.

Weighing 380 tonnes and being 55m long, the first steel section of the bridge arrived via barge from Belgium on Tuesday morning.

The NAV1 section makes its way into the harbour entrance in Lowestoft.

The NAV1 section makes its way into the harbour entrance in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

The North Approach Viaduct (NAV1) section - the section of the bridge for the northern approach crossing the railway line in Lowestoft - arrived on a barge following a 32-hour crossing from Ghent in Belgium.

The NAV1 section arrives in Lowestoft.

The NAV1 section arrives in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

After arriving outside the harbour entrance just after 6am, the barge made its way through the Bascule bridge and on to the construction site on Lake Lothing from around 7.30am.

The NAV1 section about to head through the Bascule bridge in Lowestoft.

The NAV1 section about to head through the Bascule bridge in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

Onlookers said it was "a tight squeeze" as the barge edged its way through the bridge channel.

But the complex process of navigating the barge into the inner harbour and then transferring the steel structure from the barge on to the site was excellently overseen by a team of experienced civil engineers, port masters and marine experts.

The NAV1 section arrives in Lowestoft.

The NAV1 section arrives in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

A small crowd of people turned out on the Heritage Quay in Lowestoft to capture the historic moment, while people also watched from the South Pier near the harbour entrance - all with cameras and mobile phones at the ready to witness the arrival.

Most Read

With leading building and civil engineering contractor Farrans constructing the bridge for Suffolk County Council, The Gull Wing aims to open in 2023.

The NAV1 section makes its way into the harbour.

The NAV1 section makes its way into the harbour. - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Fabricated by Victor Buyck Steel Construction, when NAV1 is ready to move into its final position spanning the East Suffolk railway line in Lowestoft it will weigh approximately 1,450 tonnes.

The NAV1 section goes through the bascule bridge.

The NAV1 section goes through the bascule bridge. - Credit: Suffolk County Council

In the coming days it will be moved to a special platform where a concrete slab deck will be cast in situ before the entire span is moved and placed in its final position during a weekend long event.

Reaction

Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “I am delighted to welcome the arrival of the first section of a bridge that will make a huge difference to people and businesses in Lowestoft for many years to come.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “This is an exciting development as people can now begin seeing for themselves the bridge taking shape.

“Once complete it will transform the way we move around and do business in Lowestoft and will be a landmark of which we can all be proud.”

The NAV1 section on Lake Lothing heads towards the bridge construction site.

The NAV1 section on Lake Lothing heads towards the bridge construction site. - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Neil Rogers, project director on Gull Wing bridge for Farrans, said: “The arrival of NAV 1 is an important milestone for the progress of the Gull Wing project.

“Victor Buyck began manufacturing this structure back in July 2021 and we are pleased to now have this integral piece on site, following meticulous organisation in both Belgium and in Lowestoft.

Visualisations of the Lake Lothing third crossing in Lowestoft. Picture: Suffolk County Council

Visualisations of the Lake Lothing third crossing in Lowestoft. Picture: Suffolk County Council - Credit: Suffolk County Council

“More large sections will be arriving during the coming months and the local community will be able to see the bridge coming together above the water line.

Gull Wing Lowestoft. Picture: Suffolk County Council

Gull Wing Lowestoft. Picture: Suffolk County Council - Credit: Suffolk County Council

"Work has been progressing well and there have been significant changes to the landscape of the site throughout the last year.”