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A new polymer bridge could provide a safer alternative to level crossings.

Posted on Mar 26, 2017

A new bridge system has beeMabey Bridge in Oxford, UKn designed from post-tensioned polymer modules that can be assembled rapidly without the need for heavy equipment. Arup is a structural engineering company behind the design of the Sydney Opera House. The organisation have teamed up with the 100 year old Mabey, a provider of bridging and non-mechanical construction equipment. And together they have worked on the Pedesta bridge which is one of the world’s first modular glass-fibre, reinforced polymer bridge. The post-tensioned bridge is designed to be assembled in hard to reach sites where large cranes or heavy machinery cannot be used. It is expected to greatly benefit the rail industry and provide a safer alternative to level crossings where traditional pedestrian bridges cannot be installed.

It is based on a concept by Arup ( @ArupGroup ) and was launched by Mabey at the Bridges 2017 conference in Coventry, UK, where a model was put on display. It has been part-funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) which is owned by rail industry stakeholders, including Network Rail, infrastructure managers, train operators and rolling stock companies. Their work influences other regulatory bodies such as: The Office of Rail and Road, Network Rail and The Association of Train Operating Companies. Their sole aim is to keep the tracks and the public safe in the UK.

The first bridge has been installed at a Site of Special Scientific Interest for Network Rail in Oxford. The bridge modules were light enough to be transported by an articulated lorry and then assembled on site and lifted from a distance.Design for post-tensioned polymer bridge.

Based on Arup’s concept, Mabey is launching the bridge to its customers under the brand name Pedesta. Pre-engineered, modular, and fully customisable in its form, material, colour and finish, the Pedesta features include identical modules, one metre in length, which are fixed together with bolted shear connectors and then post-tensioned. The system allows spans of up to 30 metres, so it can adapt to suit any application. In addition, being 70% lighter than steel, the modules only require a pallet truck or forklift to move, enabling faster, safer and more efficient project delivery. The material provides additional resistance to fire, graffiti, vandalism, and ultra-violet radiation.

Rebecca Stewart, Associate, Arup said: “We are focused on engineering solutions to make bridges more resilient and simpler to construct. This modular bridge is quick and easy to install, minimises disruption to the surrounding communities and significantly reduces ongoing maintenance costs.”

It is hoped that this bridge can be used for a whole host of global applications – from rail footbridges to road and river spans. Michael Treacy, CEO, Mabey Bridge comments, “There is always room for innovation in bridging, and we pride ourselves on pushing boundaries with new materials so we can safely build longer-lasting structures even faster. What we have developed from Arup’s concept will change the game for our customers who tell us cost and ease-of-use come first. This is a significant step in our ongoing mission to lead the future of modular bridging and we look forward to seeing the game-changing Pedesta make its UK debut.”

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The development of the bridge was funded by Arup’s Ventures initiative, which provides support to employees developing products, exploring new business models and taking innovative solutions for the built environment to market.

Neil Webster, Innovation Programme Director from RSSB said: “Improving customer experience is a key challenge in the Rail Technical Strategy and the funding provided by RSSB for the development of this bridge has enabled the industry to come together to find this innovative solution.”

You can find the full press release here.


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Topics: Rail Safety

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