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Thu February 27 2020

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First plastic modular bridge erected in Oxford

17 Mar 17 The world’s first modular glass-fibre reinforced plastic bridge has been installed over a railway line in Oxford.

The GFRP modular footbridge in Oxford
The GFRP modular footbridge in Oxford

The post-tensioned footbridge system has been designed by Arup, with Mabey becoming the first licensed distribution partner.

The bridge is designed to be assembled in hard to reach sites where large cranes or heavy machinery cannot be used. Part-funded by the Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB) the modular bridge is expected to be of particular interest to the rail industry, providing a safer alternative to level crossings where traditional pedestrian bridges cannot be installed.

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.

Based on Arup’s concept, Mabey is launching the bridge to its customers under the brand name Pedesta. Modular and customisable in its form, material, colour and finish, the Pedesta bridge is made up of one-metre-long modules that are fixed together with bolted shear connectors and then post-tensioned. The system allows spans of up to 30 metres.

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As the modules are 70% lighter than steel, they require only a pallet truck or forklift to move. The polymer material is also designed to be resistant to fire, graffiti, vandalism, and ultra-violet radiation.

Outline designs are available for a variety of spans, widths and parapet heights. Applications include footbridge crossings over roads, rivers and rail, as well as cycleway crossings and architectural walkways. An over-rail version is also available featuring UK rail parapet heights and a geometry to suit standard rail footbridge furniture.

Arup associate Rebecca Stewart 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. We can see this bridge being useful for a whole host of global applications – from rail footbridges to road and river spans. It is great to have partnered with Mabey and for them to have become our first licensed partner.”

Mabey Bridge chief executive Michael Treacy said: “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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