Bridging at Tices Meadow

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.

Constructing the eastern bridge abutments

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.

Transporting ballast with the tractor

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.

The completed western bridge abutments

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

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About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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