North East & Yorkshire

Strengthening Rothbury Bridge

Rothbury Bridge Project - Northumberland

A £3.5 million scheme to strengthen a bridge in Northumberland is continuing to make great progress.

The Rothbury Bridge Strengthening project is a three-year scheme which involves strengthening existing sections of the bridge and the installation of new elements across the four-span masonry structure. Work began on the project in May 2010 and is being funded by Northumberland County Council through the Local Transport Plan – a funding mechanism from central government sources.

Due to the nature of works involved on the Rothbury Bridge Strengthening project, the scheme has been divided into three phases. Phase One involved the erection of a temporary bridge and was completed in 2011 whilst Phase Two comprises the strengthening of the existing bridge and the removal of the temporary bridge.

Rothbury Bridge Project - Northumberland

The final phase – which will take place in 2013 – will involve the removal of the temporary bridge’s foundations. Rothbury Bridge will reopen to the public later this year.

The main contractor on the Rothbury Bridge Strengthening project is Northumberland County Council.

Northumberland County Council Senior Engineer, Peter Brewis, said:

“Northumberland County Council is very much a breed apart these days as we still have an internal specialist bridge department. The bulk of the workforce has been provided by us, however there are many aspects to the project and these have required specialist input from piling and masonry to drilling teams. All of the design work on the project has been conducted by our in-house team.”

Rothbury Bridge Project - Northumberland

Peter added:

“Before we started on this scheme we spent a great deal of time discussing the bridge with experts, so that we could achieve a better understanding of how the structure works.

“We have taken off the 1970s pre-cast concrete elements, we have excavated the structure internally and we have strengthened the existing arches with the addition of masonry thrust blocks. We then reinstated the full width of the bridge – including two footways and two carriageways – with the installation of a pre-cast winged cantilever to create the finished width of the deck.”

In order to facilitate the work on Rothbury Bridge, an approach road was created on nearby land so once the project is completed the area of land will undergo a small amount of landscaping work.

As Rothbury Bridge is an ancient monument all of the work on the project is being approved by English Heritage. In addition, special consideration is also being taken to protect nearby wildlife, so every aspect of the project is being carefully organised in conjunction with Natural England.

Rothbury Bridge Project - Northumberland

Peter said:

“The project is taking place through the middle of a thriving community, with the bridge splitting the town into two. The hospitals, emergency services and housing are located on one side of the town, whilst the town centre is situated on the other side.

“This is certainly one of the most complex schemes that I’ve ever come across working for Northumberland County Council. I am sure there are other schemes which are far bigger and far more complex, but to bring all of the different aspects together in such a confined site has certainly been a challenge.”

In order to ease traffic in the affected area, Northumberland County Council has set up a one-way traffic system on one side of the town which has already proved very effective for reducing traffic congestion.

Peter said:

“The first section of Rothbury Bridge was constructed in 1460 from sandstone and was just wide enough to carry a horse and carriage and in 1750 the bridge was widened. In 1908 footways were added and in 1971 concrete sections were renewed and modern steel railings were installed on pedestrian areas.

“The project that we are now involved with will see stone parapets added and these will be carried by a winged cantilever across the bridge.

“The feedback that we have received from the community makes this project feel very worthwhile. The community have had something of a carbuncle living in their midst for many years now but once this scheme has reached fruition the bridge that we will give them is exactly what they have always hoped for.”

The Rothbury Bridge Strengthening project is currently on programme and is scheduled to reach completion in autumn 2013.

Rothbury Bridge Project - Northumberland

 Pyeroy Limited

Providing access scaffolding to support the repair and refurbishment of the 15th Century Rothbury Bridge in Northumberland requires not only a delicate touch but the specialist expertise, skills and project management capability that only a company like Pyeroy, with its track record on other similar projects, can provide.

Pyeroy, which has eight operating centres located around the UK and Ireland, has extensive experience in undertaking bridge projects as well as an industry wide reputation for quality of work, safety standards and professionalism.

Scaffolding systems for structures like Rothbury Bridge require skilled and adept engineers to deliver projects, no matter how complex, on time and to budget. The use of turnkey management solutions is recommended best practice as it provides clients with clear benefits in project planning, control and cost effectiveness, while quality and contract monitoring systems ensure projects are completed on time.

It’s also important to consider a contractor’s experience of working at height over water. This can have a major bearing on how well a project is completed and, if not properly addressed, can have implications in terms of project overruns and health and safety issues.

Pyeroy’s history of working on other bridge projects includes the most famous re-painting job of all time, the Forth Rail Bridge, which was completed in 2011 after more than 10 years of work and involving contractors repainting more than 30,000 metres of structural steelwork. The company also gave one of London’s most iconic structures – Tower Bridge – a fresh coat of paint to make sure it was pristine as London prepared to welcome the world for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Other bridges the company has been involved with include the High Level Bridge, which spans the River Tyne between Newcastle and Gateshead, and the refurbishment of London’s 120 year old Blackfriars Railway Bridge – all projects demonstrating how developing effective refurbishment and maintenance programmes with a partner like Pyeroy can only be an advantage in protecting major assets.

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