Telford and Wrekin Council

Telford, Shropshire

Architect: Nicoll Russell Studios
Structural Engineer: Jacobs
Main Contractor: Balfour Beatty

Telford Central Footbridge Replacement Scheme

Until the Telford Central Footbridge replacement scheme was opened to the public on 28th November 2018, the vital link between the railway station and the town centre was served by a single span steel truss structure which had reached the end of its working life and had become too costly to maintain.  The old structure was dark and uninviting and did not meet current design standards or disabled access requirements.

The structures are both based on a single-span lenticular space truss roof, fabricated from steel circular hollow sections. The railway structure is 27m long and the larger highway structure is 90m long. The steel decks are supported from the truss system on hangers. For the the main bridge the deck also acts together with the roof truss and raking end members to create a tied arch supported on piled  concrete abutments, faced with blockwork. The railway bridge is founded on the piled lift shaft pits. The approach routes are supported by a combination of columns, embankments and gabions. A brickwork clad steel structure connects the two bridges.

This would prove to be a complex and frequently challenging civil engineering project, being built on site with a very small and restricted footprint the new structures to cross an important rail link and two busy inner ring roads. It is felt that the new Central Footbridge scheme, which is being used daily by over 1000 pedestrians and with over 40,000 vehicles passing under it, is an outstanding piece of functional urban architecture and a shining example of modern collaborative working practice.

The installation process was perhaps the most challenging part of the project; having a site with limited space, surrounded by busy roads and a railway meant the development of a practical, safe and efficient construction methodology was critical. The Balfour Beatty team worked closely with the client and other agencies to develop the logistics plan.  Assembly areas were established adjacent to the railway and Rampart Way where the two substantially prefabricated bridges were gradually put together on bespoke temporary works. The use of offsite manufacturing minimised the activities on site and the fitting of the architectural finishes,including glazing and the tensile fabric roof, before each lift also limited the work carried out above the road and railway.

The smaller railway span was successfully installed during an overnight road and rail closure in July 2018. The client and main contractor did a great job of promoting the project in the press and social media resulting in a large crowd gathering to watch the spectacular installation of the larger road span. The structure was successfully lifted into place on 17th September using the massive LG1750 mobile crane.

This is an extremely challenging project but it is a great example of the benefits of a collaborative approach to construction. The close working relationship between SH Structures and Main Contractor, Balfour Beatty, the structural engineers and the client was a key factor in the successful delivery of this complex scheme.

Since being opened at the end of 2018 public feedback has been very positive with statements such as ‘The new modern structure is a much more welcoming’;

‘The new bridge is smart and inviting’; It makes Telford look better to people coming to visit’ being typical. The new bridge has also had an immediate impact on some of the local businesses in the area with both KFC and Costa Coffee, for example, opening new outlets on nearby Rampart Way.

The outstanding success of the project is very much the result of a team effort. The chosen ECI procurement route has benefitted all those involved and is an outstanding example of collaborative working and the importance of relationships in all aspects of the project delivery.