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Dartford Thurrock Crossing, West Bore, Kent

  • Client: The Highways Agency
  • Architect: Jacobs Engineering
  • Construction Manager: Connect Plus
  • Scope of Works
  • Fire Protection: 9,300m² Promat Promatect®-T Board
  • Support Structure: 9,300m² Stainless Steel Framing System
  • Drainage: 9,300m² Stainless Steel Water Ingress Management System
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The Dartford Thurrock Crossing is a major trunk road that links the M25, London Orbital Motorway, between Junctions 2 and 31. The introduction of the European Directive 2004/54/EC on 30 April 2004 requires that all tunnels longer than 500 meters and belonging to the Trans European Road Network meet minimum safety requirements, and in particular, related to fires. With the amount of heavy good vehicles that currently use the Dartford Thurrock Crossing, it was necessary to adopt a high performance fire protection design within the West Tunnel. It was proposed that the RWS (RijksWaterStaat) fire curve was adopted as the basis for designing the new passive fire protection solution.  The performance specification demanded that the new fire protection solution must protect against temperatures of 1350 °C for a minimum of 2 hours. The new passive fire protection system must also accommodate a static pressure of +/- 1.5 KPa caused by winds and moving traffic, whilst providing a maintenance free design life of 40 years.

Sharpfibre was awarded the project to design and install the new passive fire protection package in March 2009. Due to the short timeframes involved in this scheme, meticulous planning and preparation prior to the start of works on site represented the key to the successful delivery of the works. Working from first principles, Sharpfibre engaged its specialist project delivery team consisting of Ancon Building Products (Stainless Steel Systems), Promat UK Limited (Fire protection boards) and Industrial Marine Coatings (Surface finishes). This project delivery team helped establish a robust design solution which was independently tested and approved prior to the installation programme on site.

Once on site, all installation works were carried out over a five day shift pattern under strictly controlled road traffic management closures between the hours of 22.00 and 05.00. Whilst the installation of the passive fire protection system was underway, Sharpfibre had to accommodate unplanned and emergency maintenance works without effect on the overall completion date. Following the meticulous planning both pre-construction and while on site, the passive fire protection works were successful delivered 26 weeks after commencement.

Product Information

Built-in or “passive” fire protection measures are used in most modern constructions. With road tunnels, the extent of passive fire protection is determined by assessment of the risk to those travelling within this environment, or the potential value placed on the goods carried and the value of the overall asset.

The European Directive 2004/54/EC on minimum safety requirements for tunnels in the Trans-European road network became effective in 2004. In almost all EU member states, the EU Directive considerably changed the legislative background of road tunnel safety as well as the relevant national technical guidelines. The EU Directive thus initiated an impetus towards harmonisation of regulations in Europe to improve the safety of the road tunnel users and the protection of the tunnel structure from failure in a fire.

Although there are no specific British Standards for fire protection in tunnels, a great deal of research has been carried out in recent years into fire development and temperatures. Hydrocarbon fires will develop quickly and reach much higher temperatures than less flammable materials. Throughout Europe, two fire curves are commonly specified as the base curves for modern tunnel fire protection designs; RWS (RijksWaterStaat) and HCM (HydroCarbon Modified – France).

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