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Manchester magic

It can’t be easy for the Gifford engineers toiling away in Manchester’s Media City to finish the development’s iconic footbridge.

Working for a bridge guru

They have to meet a tight delivery deadline; it’s a high profile project; and their ultimate boss, Gifford chairman Gordon Clark, is a latter-day bridge guru who has served up in an illustrious career a host of technically challenging and award-winning structures, culminating in the much lauded Gateshead Millennium bridge.

Of course, Gifford relishes a challenge and that is exactly what client Peel Holdings presented it with when the company landed the contract in 2008. The Media City development has, and will likely to continue to be, a high profile area. Next year, the BBC will begin to move around 2,500 staff to the site, which will involve relocating five London-based departments, along with all local and network broadcasting currently operating out of Manchester city centre.

Next year, the BBC will begin to move around 2,500 staff to the site, which will involve relocating five London-based departments

They will join the University of Salford and Northwest Vision and Media on the North Quay development taking the number of full time workers and residents to around 5,000.

Peel Holdings wanted a “unique and memorable landmark” that had to be in context and respond to the practicalities of the site - it will link the Media City development on the North Quay (Salford) with the South Quay (Trafford), adjacent to the Imperial War Museum North. The bridge also had to accommodate ship structures up to 20m high.

What Gifford, in collaboration with architects Wilkinson Eyre and Bennett - Atkins’ M&E engineers - came up with was an asymmetric cable stayed swing bridge with a 65m main span.

Slide operation

The bridge comprises two spans; the main span crossing the shipping channel of the canal is around 65m, with a short back span of about 18m at the south end. The back span structure forms the counterweight to balance the asymmetric spans during opening.

Construction of the main pier support is now well advanced within a temporary cofferdam in the canal, with only the final plant room floor and wall construction and M&E equipment fit out remaining.

The intention then is to slide the entire bridge from its temporary erection location on the quayside across the canal to locate the pivot section of the deck onto the permanent slew bearing in the main pier plant room. This slide operation will require a calm weather window and is likely to take place early next month.

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