The downstream footway and cycleway were removed temporarily so that the two traffic lanes could be shifted closer to the railway bridge. This enables work to be carried out on the upstream side of the New Bridge safely and with minimal impact on traffic flow. When the layout is adjusted the two lanes will be shifted to the right slightly, to allow us to move the focus of works from the upstream to the downstream side of the bridge.
Progress so far
The old parapet rail and lamp columns have been removed. These were 50 years old and had reached the end of their serviceable life. Because the space available to work is very constrained, the removal of the sections had to be done in short sections using hand tools. With all the steel removed, repairs were carried out to the concrete of the parapet upstand and some sections had to be rendered. The vertical face of the upstand will be covered with a flexible coating to protect the concrete and give a consistent appearance to the whole bridge.
Next, slots were cut into the top of the concrete parapet to install brackets for the new lamp columns. Special “dogbone” shaped brackets were added to the outside of the parapet to carry the conduit and electrical cable for the power supply to the new lamp columns. The posts for the new safety parapet have also been installed. They are attached to the concrete upstand with strong anchor bolts which will enable the parapet to withstand a major vehicle impact in the unlucky event of an accident on the bridge. Horizontal rails are now being attached to the parapet posts – and should be up by the time this post is online.
The new parapet is quite different in style and appearance to the old one and this has been necessary to meet current safety and environmental standards for a bridge over a major tidal river. The new equipment is also easier to maintain, which will reduce any disruption for repairs in the future.
This work is an opportunity to introduce consistency to the lamp columns across the New Bridge. The first section of the bridge on the Strood side belongs to Medway Council and has a different design of lamp column to the main section over the water, which belongs to the Trust. The engineers worked with the council early in the design process so that the replacement parapets and the street lighting will be the same across the bridge.
The same work has been carried out at the Rochester end of the bridge and it was necessary to close the right turn into the Esplanade to give our contractor a safe space to operate. Whenever possible, when work was not being carried out and the road could be made safe, this restriction was removed.
There will need to be a few more short daytime closures for the final painting and installing the lamp columns and to install the final pieces of the new granite wall which is currently being constructed.