VolkerHighways and VolkerFitzpatrick have successfully removed and replaced a life expired pedestrian footbridge over the London Victoria to Ramsgate railway cutting, at Gillingham, Kent.
Both companies are working in partnership, to replace the footbridge, as part of VolkerHighways’ highways infrastructure framework with Medway Council.
The original footbridge, which was 31.1m long, 1.9m wide and weighed 23tonnes, was located on the west side of Gillingham train station, spanning the eight metre deep railway cutting between Chatham and Gillingham train stations.
Preparation works for the project began in early 2020, with VolkerHighways working in conjunction with Medway Council, VolkerFitzpatrick and additional bridge specialists, to ensure the works were completed to a high standard, on time and within budget. VolkerHighways was also involved in the planning, design and fabrication of the bridge, as well as surveys, bridge inspections and the installation of electrical feeder pillars and duct work.
Works to remove the footbridge started in early April, with VolkerFitzpatrick constructing the new in-situ reinforced concrete foundations, which were located at the rear of the existing bridge foundation supports and constructed during normal daytime working, outside of the Network Rail boundary.
To ensure the safety of the team and members of the public, VolkerHighways closed footways, implemented pedestrian diversions, and put in place local road closures.
Restricted road widths and the fact that the area is highly residential, meant that the bridge had to be fabricated and transported to site in two halves. Once delivered, a 200 tonne crane was used to offload the bridge sections and splice them together on site.
Over the May bank holiday, under a single 25 hour possession, and using a Liebherr 450t mobile crane, the old bridge was removed, and a new 35tonne steel truss bridge, 33m long and 3m wide was installed. The new bridge is supported on the new reinforced concrete foundations.
Mark Taylor, VolkerFitzpatrick’s contracts manager, said: “This was a very well planned and executed footbridge replacement, involving multiple contractors, that all worked in true collaboration. The health and safety management has been a credit to all those on site, with everyone embracing our behavioural safety programme, Network Rail’s lifesaving rules and other Southern Shield initiatives, to ensure we send everyone home safe at the end of each shift.”
Sohail Hussain, VolkerHighways’ project manager, said: “We are pleased to have completed this project to a very high safety and quality standard. Communication and coordination between both VolkerHighways and VolkerFitzpatrick was excellent, showcasing the benefits of working collaboratively across VolkerWessels UK, evidenced by the bridge opening a week ahead of schedule.”
Once the new bridge was installed, VolkerHighways reinstated the footway paving, street lighting columns and street furniture and handed back the site to Medway Council for opening to the public.
Cllr Phil Filmer, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services, said: “I am pleased that the new improved footbridge in Green Street, Gillingham, is now open. It is testament to the hard work of our partners that works on the bridge were completed sooner than expected. This project is a great example of collaborative working with VolkerHighways, VolkerFitzpatrick, Nusteel and Network Rail. The new bridge is wider, which will make it easier for pedestrians and wheelchair users to pass others, and new lighting has been installed.”
Thanks to the efforts of all involved, the project was completed a week ahead of the original programme, with significant cost savings and minimal disruption to the local residents and businesses.
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