‘The Department of Infrastructure has responded to a front page story in last week’s Manx Independent.’
“It highlighted an official report that suggested that asphalt could have been used on the corridor instead of concrete and that the cracks which have formed have penetrated the full depth of the new surface.
A DoI spokesman told the Examiner that differentiating the tram corridor from the asphalt roadway was a ’necessary health and safety requirement’ that ensures that pedestrians are aware of the change in their environment.
He added: ’The most appropriate and cost-effective way of achieving this was to use a coloured concrete.
’The design encapsulates the rail and holds it firmly in place.’
The rail design, created by Victoria Street-based Burroughs Stewart Associates (BSA) was criticised by engineering experts Robery Forensic Engineering (RFE) for encapsulating the rail in the concrete.
A report by RFE said that the cracks are a direct result of the design, which saw concrete poured directly against the rails and with nothing separating it from the foundation slab beneath. And the report suggests that asphalt could have been used instead.
Based on written information provided and without a site visit, the RFE report was prepared for Auldyn Construction and looks at the engineering design of the scheme by BSA on behalf of the Manx government.
Despite RFE saying the design of concrete onto the rails was uncommon, as the rails would normally be encapsulated in another material to separate it from the concrete, the DoI spokesman said that BSA’s design was chosen ’based on their experience of tramway systems using a proven design for fully encased rail’.
He added: ’Encapsulating systems are used in some light tramway systems. The design has been chosen as the most appropriate and cost effective solution.’
The DoI provided more information about issues raised by the department over alleged failures to pour and cover newly-laid concrete properly.
The department said that these claims were made after the work was ’witnessed by its supervisory staff on the site’.
Its spokesman added: ’The evidence is quoted in the check logs kept by the staff. This is further corroborated by the defect notices raised by the contract supervisors in February and March 2013.
’The RFE report was written after the event by parties not on site at the time of casting the concrete.’
The department also responded to questions about the letter from director of highways Jeff Robinson about the horse tram tracks not meeting the required standard due to the cracked concrete.”
The Manx Independent reported that Mr Robinson had written to BSA outlining that it is responsible for the issues of cracking and that the DoI expects it to fix it.
The Department of Infrastructure’s spokesman said: ’The letter to BSA is clear - the appearance is below standard and there is a risk to the long term durability.’