A time-critical project
Due to the complexity of the repairs, an initial scheme suggested a closure time of 20 weeks but in response to pleas from local residents who would have to make lengthy detours and businesses fearing damage to trade, the scheme was reduced to 15 weeks. This was achieved in consultation with Esh, who agreed to longer hours and weekend work and also cooperation in the supply chain, with suppliers staying open out of normal hours. This timescale, however, was dependent upon not uncovering any unforeseen issues – an unpredictable factor on a 225-year-old structure. Fortunately, no further serious problems were found and the work was completed in just 13 weeks.
Photo shows extensive bridge damage.
Grade II listed structure
Due to the listed status of the bridge, the repairs required a specialist workforce involving stonemasons to carry out repairs sympathetic to the existing structure. Masonry repairs to the parapets, included installing steel staples to pin the stonework together for increased structural strength.
Scaffolding was erected over the bridge and was sheeted to allow the steel girders to be grit blasted and reinforced with extra plating over the main arch.
Photos show scaffolding and canopy and grit blasted girders
The two flood arches either side of the main arch were found to have no concrete backfill and specialist excavations had to be used to gently vacuum out the loose fill and expose the arch blockwork. This was then backfilled using a lean concrete mix, with steel anchors to hold the bridge together.
A Vehicle Restraint System (VRS), more commonly known as a crash barrier, was installed across the length of the bridge, to increase motorist safety and reduce the risk of bridge damage from vehicles in the future.
Finally, kerbing, resurfacing and white lining was carried out to complete the work.
Support for local residents and businesses
In order to support residents and local businesses during the closure, the council took a number of actions including:
Keeping residents informed of the work at every step through dedicated web pages and email newsletters, with printed versions for anyone not able to access information via email;
Making alternative transport arrangements to make sure local children still attended their school and providing home care packages for vulnerable adults; Arranging a free shuttle bus to connect with a nearby service bus to provide onward travel; Holding a business surgery to offer advice and help in funding a booklet to promote local businesses which might see a reduction in passing trade; Setting up an official signed diversion route.
A collaborative effort
The council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport, Councillor Paul West, said:
“I’m sure the residents of Bubwith and the surrounding area are extremely pleased the work is finished and the bridge can finally reopen to traffic. We are absolutely delighted to be able to reopen this bridge two weeks early.
We had no option but to close the bridge to carry out these repairs and I want to thank the local residents and local drivers for being very patient with us while the work was carried out."
He further said: “I want to commend our civil engineering team and our contractors Esh Construction for being so accommodating and carrying out an impressive repair scheme in a shorter time frame.”
Using local suppliers
Steven Garrigan, Divisional Director at Esh Construction, said: “The closure of Bubwith Bridge has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the local community, and from the outset we understood the importance of completing the essential repair works as quickly as possible. The progress on site is testament to the collaborative efforts of our client, site team and sub-contractors which has enabled us to complete the scheme ahead of programme. Over half of the contract value has been re-invested within 20 miles of site through our commitment to procuring local suppliers and sub-contractors where possible to do so, given the specialist nature of the trades required.”
The bridge was officially opened by a delegation including the civil engineering teams from Esh Construction, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and both local and parish councillors.
Adam Holmes, the council's Director of Infrastructure and Facilities, said: “The residents and business people in the Bubwith area called for the bridge repairs to be shortened – and we are pleased we’ve achieved this, thanks to successful discussions with our contractors. They have done a huge amount of work to reduce the time frame."