Essential maintenance work is to be carried out on the Cowes Floating Bridge later this month in advance of an expected increase in visitor numbers to the Island during the summer holidays.
During the work, which is scheduled to start on Tuesday 14th July and last 10 days, there will be a replacement passenger launch service between Cowes and East Cowes – with the necessary COVID-19 measures in place, including social distancing, face coverings and contactless payment.
The planned maintenance work is to replace segments on the vessel’s 2 main drive wheels as well as complete noise mitigation measures. It is envisaged it will take around 10 days, with contractors working extended hours to complete the maintenance as soon as possible.
The scheduling of the essential work is designed to ensure it is completed before the end of July, so the service is up and running for a busy August, and the remainder of the summer and into the winter months.
Passengers currently using the floating bridge, including school pupils, will be able to switch to the launch while the works are carried out. The launch will be able to accommodate up to 25 passengers each trip on its shuttle service between 05:00 and 23:00 and face masks must be worn. There will be a floating bridge foot passenger ticket collector to marshal users appropriately.
Cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, Councillor Ian Ward, said:
“It has been very difficult to time these works without affecting users of the floating bridge, but we have endeavoured to do so with the aim of all being in place for a return of the service during the peak season. We apologise for any inconvenience during this time.
“The work had been difficult to schedule earlier in the lockdown period, as we wanted to maintain the service as a priority for those needing to cross the Medina, especially key workers, while the Red Jet was not in operation.
“The replacement launch service will provide a regular Medina crossing while the works are undertaken, including catering for any pick up in foot traffic in the post-4 July lockdown easing period.”
Although schools will not finish their terms until later in July, there are currently a low numbers of pupils using the floating bridge.