What caused Brayford footbridge delays

Network Rail has said high water levels and loose ground caused the further delays to the 100 tonne Brayford level crossing footbridge project, but they don’t anticipate any further problems.

As previously reported, the new delayed finish date for the project is Tuesday, May 14 with the road and the level crossing reopening the following day (Wednesday, May 15).

Brayford Wharf East was closed to traffic for six months until Monday, May 6. The crossing was also closed off for pedestrians in January with the finish date initially delayed until March 4 at the earliest, but these dates were both recently extended.

A team of 30 are on site directly associated with the construction. The team is now working double shifts to help ensure the work is finished in time, with a shift during the day and another in the evening.

Additional works

Deputy regional director for the infrastructure projects at Network Rail Rob Cairns told The Lincolnite: “We’ve introduced some additional work associated with the piling in order to make sure that the crane we intend to use to lift the bridges can be secure due to unforeseen ground conditions.

“We’ve always prepared for poor ground conditions by its nature with high water levels. As we’ve progressed  we’ve found that we’ve had to install longer piles and that some of the piles have been damaged due to the ground conditions so it’s extra work to make sure that we can secure the lifting of the cranes.

“The delay was a surprise.

“The ground conditions that we’d prepared for was already quite conservative. We knew that by being next to the water we would have a high water table.

“We knew that we would have loose ground conditions. What we actually encountered was a level of poorness that would not normally be expected. We had running material within the excavation so we’ve had to perform some rework on the piles which wouldn’t be ordinarily expected.”

How the footbridge will look once it’s complete

Made in Scotland

The large structure, which was made in Glasgow, is currently being stored at Newark Showground and comes in three main sections – the span, the stairs and two concrete piers which act as vertical uprights.

It weighs around 100 tonnes and 65 metres from the step to the step.

There are three different lifts and three cranes being used to bring the bridge in. The biggest crane is 300 tonnes but the biggest span being lifted is by two separate 250 tonne cranes.

Spring construction

The bridge gets constructed or lifted in during the last weekend in March. Then in the first weekend in April the team use the time for completion work so it will be ready by the morning of May 15.

The first footbridge located on the High Street opened in June 2016 after delays so there are concerns from locals about the timings of the latest project changing again.

The work currently ongoing at the site. Photo: Joseph Verney for The Lincolnite

Remaining risk

Rob is confident this will be the final delay. He said: “It is a different scenario. This is a different team, it’s a different contractor, it’s a different Network Rail business. We do recognise and apologise for the disruption and thank residents for being so patient.

“The remaining risk we need to be careful for is high wind loadings so during the last weekend of March and the first weekend in April we have a large crane and we are doing a very large lift.

“That would be susceptible to high winds if we had winds above 20-25mph, that would be the only risk to completion that we would now be managing.”

Network Rail wouldn’t disclose the budget other than to say it is a “multi-million pound project”.

Rob added: “We don’t have a final figure yet for the adjusted works. We did start a little bit later for the planning so we are doing all that we can to mitigate the cost and manage the budget.”

The closure also limits some people’s easy to access lunch possibilities and when asked where the workers opt for, he said: “I’m not sure, but I’ve just seen somebody walking past with a BLT sandwich.”