Spencer Group is completing a bespoke footbridge in critical Scottish bridge works

Hull-based Spencer Group has completed a unique temporary walkway on Connell Bridge.

HHeritage bridge specialist Spencer Group has completed a complex and unique temporary walkway on an iconic Scottish bridge ahead of major deck replacement work.

The Grade B listed Connel Bridge connects the villages of Connel and North Connel near Oban and spans Loch Etive.

Spencer Group, based in Hull, has been awarded the contract to design, build and install a temporary 240m footpath for the bridge following a tender process.

The design and build project, which started in January 2022, has been completed for BEAR Scotland, a service provider in the Scottish road maintenance sector, on behalf of Transport Scotland.

The walkway is cantilevered from the east side of the bridge, up to 4.5 meters around the foot of the tower, allowing for the complex shape of the structure and allowing pedestrian access during the planned works to replace the entire deck in the coming years.

As part of the first phase of this critical work, a team of bridge construction specialists Spencer Group carried out surveys including laser scanning and 3D modeling of the bridge to capture its geometry and enable the pavement to be designed.

Due to the age of the structure and the construction methods of the time, the bridge is held together by thousands of rivets. Spencer Group’s design for the footbridge included the elimination of rivet removal and welding, so the footbridge can be removed in the future without affecting the heritage of the structure.

Spencer Group’s in-house mechanical and electrical engineers also supplied integrated street lighting to illuminate the pavement at night.
Luke Fisher, Director of Bridges at Spencer Group, said: “We are delighted to complete the project on behalf of BEAR Scotland, providing a footpath over the bridge that is safer and wider than the original footpath.

“The footpath is a bespoke design that is completely bespoke to Connel Bridge and sympathetic to its heritage. The walkway is not a viewing platform, but thanks to its cantilevered design outside the bridge structure, it provides a unique view of both the bridge and the surroundings.

“This has been a very successful project and we are delighted to build on our already strong working relationship with BEAR Scotland.

“The bridge is critical because without it it would be a two and a half hour drive to the other side of the lake and it is really important that pedestrian access is maintained while the deck is being replaced.

“We specialize in providing innovative solutions for complex engineering projects such as the Connel Bridge. Our teams of rope access, steel erectors and M&E experts worked on the pavement. We even completed some work at night during limited traffic closures.”

Harry Towle, structural engineer at Spencer Group, which designed the pavement, said: “The pavement design used the latest design technology to analyze the structure of the pavement, assessing the effects of different loading conditions to ensure an optimized and safe design. .

“The design is unique in the way it connects with the existing bridge structure. This involved modeling hundreds of special packers that eliminated the removal of rivets from the existing bridge, with each area requiring detailed attention to ensure we designed the right solution.

“To maximize pavement installation efficiency for our on-site teams, we used laser scanner modeling to precisely position steel pavement elements to mitigate the risk of collisions on site.

“To minimize modifications to the existing masonry wall at each end of the sidewalk, we also used the model to accurately map the transition from the existing path to the new sidewalk.”

Connel Bridge, built by Sir William Arrol in 1903, was at its time the second largest cantilever bridge in Europe. It was originally a railway bridge and from 1914 until the closure of the railway in 1966 it was used for both rail and road transport.

The Connel Bridge project is the latest in a series of Scottish bridge renewal projects for the Spencer Group. It also continues to work on behalf of BEAR Scotland on the Kessock Bridge, Forth Road Bridge and Queensferry Crossing projects.

Murray MacLeod, North West Major Bridges and Gantry Manager for BEAR Scotland, said: “Working with Spencer Group and their specialist M&E team, we are delighted to announce that this unique and complex project to install a new footbridge on Connel Bridge has been successfully delivered on on behalf of Transport Scotland.

“Through good and regular communication with Luke’s multi-disciplinary team, numerous analysis, design, heritage, planning and construction challenges were resolved in a professional and timely manner, allowing the footbridge equipment to be installed safely on schedule to deliver the solution. which goes well with the historic and iconic nature of Connel Bridge.

“A very pleasing result for all parties.”

The Spencer Group delivers innovative engineering and construction solutions to the transportation, infrastructure, material handling, energy and industrial sectors.

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