Five years on from the devastating floods which engulfed parts of Boston in December 2013, work is nearing completion on the £100 million Boston Barrier.
Designed to protect more than 14,000 homes from flood risk, the scheme is being built beyond the threat of a tidal surge like the one that struck five years ago.
Funded by the Government Flood Defence Grant in Aid, the barrier is, along with Environment Agency Work to raise the tidal river bank downstream, the biggest flood protection scheme outside of London in the country.
Work on the barrier began earlier this year after Government approval for the plan, with BAM Nuttal and Mott MacDonald Joint Venture (BMM JV) winning the contract to build the barrier.
The barrier itself is due to be installed by next December with the project as a whole due to be complete by winter 2020.
A spokesman for Boston Council reassured those living close to the construction site that that the noisiest works have now come to an end – steel sheet piling driven into the river bed to create a cofferdam and bankside reinforcement is now complete on the south bank, and secondary piling will continue in the New Year.
The contractors at BMM JV have designed and installed a five-metre high temporary noise shroud for the properties directly adjacent to the works along Wyberton Low Road which has reduced noise levels on the street considerably.
A huge working platform, floated into place and then jacked up from the river bed, much like an oil-drilling rig, equipped with heavy-duty piling and vibration hammers, has been used to drive more than 2,000 tonnes of steel piles metres down into the river bed.
The cofferdam, which extends from the bank across about two thirds of the river is opposite the port and just downstream of the Forty Foot outfall. When it has been dewatered, work will begin to install the concrete base across the river bed for the giant steel flood protection gate.
Flood protection engineers at Hollandia in the Netherlands are constructing the giant gate, which will be the final piece of the jigsaw when it is delivered by ship to the site from across the North Sea.
The massive hydraulic rams which will raise the barrier will already be in place waiting to receive the gate.
An 18-metre navigation channel has been left open on the Port of Boston side of the cofferdam to allow vessels to safely pass the construction site, and a safety boat has been deployed to enforce one-way traffic during the construction works, and those making passage through to The Wash get a seal’s eye view of the construction.
Cllr Michael Cooper, Leader of Boston Borough Council, said: “No one who was affected by the horrendous flood of December 5, 2013, wants reminding of that horrendous night and the days, weeks and months afterwards.”
“But the good news is that Boston is now to benefit from a truly massive flood protection scheme.
“It is a massive investment in the area, providing added security and peace of mind for literally thousands of property owners.
“It opens up a whole bright new future for economic development and, given the scale of the project, it has proceeded at pace. We all look forward to it being fully operational.”