Olympic Park waterways dredged for freight barges

Major dredging works have begun on the waterways of London's Olympic Park, opening up the navigation to allow freight boats to carry construction materials into the site.

The work will also improve water quality and create better habitats for wildlife and plants.

There are 8.35km of waterways in and around the Park, ultimately connecting with the River Thames. The dredging programme will help open up the Bow Back Rivers and tributaries of the River Lee Navigation that run through the Park, enabling 350-tonne barges to carry materials in and out of the construction zone.

ODA Environment Manager Richard Jackson said: "The Olympic Park is characterised by a series of waterways which act as green corridors running through the heart of the site. Currently, they are polluted, neglected and under-used, and have been treated as a dumping ground for everything from shopping trolleys to cars."

The clearing and cleaning of the waterways will enable 350-tonne freight barges to carry construction materials in, and waste out, of the Park during the construction phase. A new wharf will be used to receive freight loads for the Olympic Park contractors. Work has begun on the upper levels of the wharf and is due to be completed at the start of June.

Barges will then be able to travel into the Park by water via a new £20m tidal lock and water control structure, Three Mills Lock.

A 60-tonne craft has started dredging a 2.2km stretch of water from Bow Locks to the Waterworks River. It is expected to remove 30,000 tonnes of silt, gravel and rubble as well as tyres, shopping trolleys, timber and at least one motor car. The dredged aggregates will be recycled and reused in construction works in the Olympic Park.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has a policy of minimising the movement of goods by road, and has set itself the target of having 50 per cent of construction materials (by weight) delivered by rail or water. So far, much of the site work has been demolition, but now construction has begun on all five major venues.

In April the ODA said it was achieving 57 per cent of deliveries by rail alone. The rail freight facilities within the Olympic Park are managing the delivery and removal of thousands of tonnes of bulk aggregate products for concrete production, and fill material for the Olympic Park every day.

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