Today I popped down to see our staff and volunteers preparing for bridges at Tices Meadow, where we’ve been commissioned to install two pedestrian bridges over the River Blackwater. The Western Bridge is going in near the mound, to provide an easier access than the stepping stones from the Blackwater Valley Path. Whilst the Eastern Bridge 200m downstream opens up a land-locked section of the reserve.
For these 8m and 6m span bridges respectively, we’ve chosen a sturdy design we’ve found to work well at our other sites like Blackwater Reach and Wellesley Woodlands. For each bridge three steel bearers will rest on a pair of reinforced concrete abutments, which need to be substantial to raise the bridge up from the bank and spread the load. Each one is an engineering challenge, requiring careful laser-levelling and the addition of 1.4m3 of concrete.
The unseasonably wet conditions have meant we’ve needed to borrow our shared tractor to help transport the materials, and tow out the truck when it gets stuck. Unfortunately with our tight time frame, the rutting and disturbance of the muddy ground is inevitable. However the team have worked hard to minimise the number of vehicle movements and where possible drive off the main pedestrian routes.
The abutments on the Western Bridge are already complete, and the team aim to get the Eastern Bridge ones done today. They will then cure ready for us to return next week to start building the superstructure of the Western Bridge.
Stu has done an excellent job managing the project in difficult conditions this week. Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who have worked do hard over long wet days to get the job done. I look forward to seeing the bridges taking shape with constructing the bridge structure.
Senior Ranger Stuart