canary wharf

Canary Wharf

In 2014, VolkerMarine Services was awarded a temporary works contract by Canary Wharf Contractors Limited to provide access to a constrained site at the western end of Canary Wharf’s middle dock, in London. The client’s specification was to design and build a floating road with two parking zones to accommodate fully loaded HGV’s, with adequate room for a third HGV to pass, meaning two lanes were required, with the construction capable of withstanding a total gross weight of 120t.

The team constructed an 80m x 15m floating road using 81 modular Linkflote pontoons, capable of holding the weight of articulated lorries. We provided constructability advice to the Principal Designer, Royal Haskoning, contributing towards the Building Information Model that was developed to produce fabrication and installation drawings and ensure integration with the permanent works also taking place on site.

In collaboration with Royal Haskoning and Canary Wharf Contractors Limited, we developed a solution that would provide the required access and support. The resultant design was for a modular road deck unit system complete with Highways England specification road surface finish, capable of spreading the loads safely through the pontoon structure.

Once the design was complete, VolkerMarine Services transported the required components and assembled the floating road on site. The road provided vital access for wagons to transport the materials required for the Newfoundland project, whilst minimising any impact on the existing dock wall. VolkerMarine Services maintained the facility for the required two years before the floating road was decommissioned.

Throughout the project lifecycle, VolkerMarine Services had to anticipate the risks and conditions prevailing in this busy area of London and propose innovative solutions.

The river access to the dock was not adequate to construct and float a barge large enough to meet the client’s specification. In response to this, VolkerMarine Services adopted a modular pontoon solution, which allowed the team to transport each of the components of the pontoon and assemble them on site.

Our floating road ran parallel to a Grade II listed structure, known as the ‘Banana Wall.’ Both the road and ramps were not permitted to have any contact with the wall, which is under strict surveillance from English Heritage. To overcome this restriction, we designed two restraint frames and modified two existing spud pontoons to provide clearance for the floating structure. The north ramp abutment/bankseat was supported on the newly constructed ground-floor slab and perimeter secant pile wall capping beam of the Newfoundland Building. The south ramp abutment was founded on a suspended deck structure at the southern end of the site, with the linkspan ramp extending onto the pontoon roadway deck.

Further innovations included the use of a tried and tested twist lock system, similar to that which is used to transport and store containers. Employing this system allowed the 9t units to be installed quickly and safely. In total, 21 of these units were manufactured to create the road deck surface.

A crucial safety feature of any floating assembly for vehicular use are the road barrier systems. We integrated Armco barriers onto the road decks units to stop any vehicle running off the road deck. As well as the road deck surface itself, VolkerMarine Services supplied bespoke access and egress ramps for vehicles to access the road. Both ramps were designed from scratch, weighing in at approx. 20t each, with specialist bearings forged just for this project and the loads of the vehicles involved.

This project required significant innovation from end to end and VolkerMarine Services pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved using the Linkflote pontoon system.

“Linkflote pontoons have enabled a superior facility in challenging, busy circumstances which more conventional construction techniques could not deliver.”

VolkerMarine Services marine manager