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World’s first plastic bridge installed in UK

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The world’s first modular glass-fibre reinforced plastic bridge, 70% lighter than steel, has been launched by design consultancy Arup and bridge specialist Mabey.

Mabey is the first licensed distribution partner of the post-tensioned bridge, which is designed to be assembled in hard-to-reach places where large cranes or heavy machinery can’t go.

Developed by Arup and part-funded by the UK Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), the modular bridge is expected to be of particular interest to the rail industry, providing a safer alternative to level crossings.

The first bridge has been installed at a Site of Special Scientific Interest for Network Rail in Oxford, England. The bridge modules were light enough to be transported by an articulated lorry and then assembled on site and lifted from a distance, Arup and Mabey said in a joint statement yesterday.

Based on Arup’s concept, Mabey is launching the bridge to its customers under the brand name Pedesta.

It 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.

Being 70% lighter than steel, the modules only require a pallet truck or forklift to move, enabling faster, safer and more efficient project delivery.

“This modular bridge is quick and easy to install, minimises disruption to the surrounding communities and significantly reduces ongoing maintenance costs,” said Arup associate Rebecca Stewart. “We can see this bridge being useful for a whole host of global applications – from rail footbridges to road and river spans.”

Mabey Bridge’s chief executive Michael Treacy said: “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.”

The development of the bridge was funded by Arup Ventures.

Image: World first in Oxford, England (Mabey)

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.– Rebecca Stewart, Arup