25th April 2016
It’s almost a certainty that, following a storm or significant weather event, Spencer will be called into action to rectify issues caused by strong winds, flash floods or debris damage. One such case occurred earlier this year, when trees and vegetation were blown into the river Cothi, where the swollen and then raging waters carried the debris down stream to the Pontargothi bridge that lies six-miles east of Carmarthen on the A40.
With three arches spanning the river, it didn’t take long before the trees and brash became lodged against the bridge’s stonework and, from then on, the debris built up rapidly to such an extent that it began to seriously impede the flow of the river.
It soon became apparent that if the obstruction wasn’t cleared and the wet weather continued, there was a real risk of consequential flooding. There was also concern for the bridge itself, with the additional force of water being pushed against its supports. With this in mind, Carmarthenshire County Council contacted Spencer to carry out an emergency clearance operation.
Realising that time was of the essence, Spencer’s team responded immediately and, following a site visit and inspection, a closure was arranged for the A40 trunk road that crosses the bridge. A long-reach excavator fitted with a timber grab was dispatched to the site, along with a telehandler and chainsaw crew. Working from on top of the bridge, the excavator operator was unable to see the debris he was clearing over the wall and was therefore guided to his target by a banksman on the bridge deck, who communicated to the operator via a bluetooth radio system.
Bit-by-bit the obstruction was cleared, with the wood and waste materials lifted out of the water onto the bridge deck. The debris was then cut up with chainsaws and loaded into council tipper trucks, before being taken away for further processing and recycling .
Every last piece was removed and, with the river flow reinstated back to normal and any risk of flooding averted, the operation was regarded by all involved as a complete success. Spencer were praised by the Trunk Road Agency, who said: “We were impressed by the effective and innovative way in which this potentially very serious river blockage was overcome and the threat of possible flooding was removed”.