HC Deb 02 May 1996 vol 276 cc584-5W
Mr. Morgan

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) on what dates the latest X-ray inspections of the steelwork on the approach roads to the second Severn crossing took place; if he will list those structures where the outcome of the inspection involved the non-acceptance of the steelwork as satisfactory; and what assessment he has made of the impact of the inspections on the contract completion and opening dates for (a) the crossing, (b) the M4 approach roads and (c) the M5 approach roads; and if he will make a statement; [27824]

(2) what measures he has discussed with the director of the Highways Agency in relation to the delays in the Balfour Beatty contract for the approach roads to the second Severn crossing; [27826]

(3) what representations he has had in relation to the (a) delayed and (b) defective supply of fabricated Spanish steelwork for the bridge decks on the approach roads to the second Severn crossing and methods used by Balfour Beatty to make good the deficiencies. [27825]

Mr. Watts

I have asked the chief executive of the Highways Agency to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lawrie Haynes to Mr. Rhodri Morgan, dated 2 May 1996: The Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to reply to your recent questions about the approach roads to the Second Severn Crossing. X-ray inspections are not carried out. Non-destructive testing (Ultrasonic and Magnetic Particle Inspections) has been carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Specification for Highway Works. Test results have been received for testing carried out on site up to 23 April 1996, and testing is ongoing. Defects have been found in the normal course of quality control and inspection. Unexpected levels of defects in some of the welding and some lack of fit between the stiffeners and main beams were found in bridges BI, B31, B44, and B46. All defects have been repaired or are being addressed. The inspections have no impact upon the contract completion and opening dates for either the crossing, M4 or M49 (M5) approach roads. There has been continued close liaison between us and Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd. (BBCEL) on contract completion which has ensured that the M4 completion will coincide with the opening of the Second Severn Crossing. On 1 May 1996, I explained to the Secretary of State for Transport that the Highways Agency's contractor had been encountering some problems with the steel fabrication for some structures, but that this was the responsibility of the contractor. We have been kept informed by BBCEL of the problems with steel supply and defective fabrication and are content with the steps they have taken to rectify the situation.