arcoBridge is the world’s first modular glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) post-tensioned pedestrian bridge. Designed by Arup, the revolutionary product has the potential to transform footbridge manufacture, installation and maintenance. Since its unveiling in March 2017, the bridge has received significant attention. In November 2017, arcoBridge won the ‘Innovation’ award at the Constructing Excellence National Awards ceremony in London.
The use of GFRP makes the bridge 70% lighter than a conventional steel span. This reduced weight makes the arcoBridge easy to install, even when access is limited or difficult. Individual modules can be moved using a pallet truck or forklift while the bridge as a whole can be moved simply, by using a small crane. The cost of the bridge is comparable to that of a steel footbridge yet the operating costs are lower.
Each module is 1m long allowing spans of up to 30m and a high-performance coating is designed to provide additional resistance to fire, graffiti, vandalism and UV. The post-tensioning bar can be wirelessly monitored throughout its life with any change in the structural performance triggering automatic notifications if required.
An arcoBridge is expected to last approximately 120 years and because all public facing components are non-structural and replaceable, the bridge is fully customisable. Materials, colours and finishes can be varied depending on individual requirements. Maintenance is similarly straightforward with access provided through the deck and no hidden structural elements.
Given the bridge’s potential to be assembled in hard to reach places, it is of particular interest to the rail industry. It was part funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board and has the potential to provide a safer alternative to level crossing where traditional pedestrian bridges cannot be installed. The suitability for remote locations and the potential for GFRP manufacture to introduce skills and investment into local areas also makes it an ideal solution for developing countries.
Arup is a global professional services firm with a focus on the built environment. We employ designers, planners, engineers and an extensive range of consultants and technical specialists. Founded in 1946, Arup employs over 13,000 people in 85 offices and 35 countries. The firm is fully independent and celebrates over 40 years of employee ownership. Without any external shareholders, Arup staff are free to put the needs of our clients first. Through our work we aim to make a positive difference in the world.
To find out more about Arup, please visit arup.com.
The work developing the arcoBridge is yet another example of pioneering design and engineer that continues to define the company across the globe.