By Peter Aramayo, projects director, Mabey Hire
IN the last decade, the Scottish Government has worked tirelessly to deliver major infrastructure improvements. You only have to look at the £1.3 billion upgrade to the cross-Forth transport corridor – the centre of which is the new Queensferry Crossing, the longest three-tower cable-stayed bridge in the world – to see the huge investment placed in connecting communities across the country. This is echoed in the M8/M73/M74 motorway improvements and of course, the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route to connect towns and cities along the north east coast of Scotland.
Yet as these large-scale connectivity projects continue apace, it’s also important to ensure that the connectivity needs of those in more rural areas of Scotland are not forgotten, especially when we consider that rural Scotland makes up 20% of the country’s total population, and roughly 98% of its entire land area.
For those living in these remote communities, reliable transport and pedestrian crossings across streams and rivers are not only convenient, but fundamental for economic and social well-being.
The purpose of new bridges in rural areas can vary. It might be replacing a dated bridge which has fallen into disrepair; providing temporary access routes for construction workers looking to access hard-to-reach sites without disrupting the public; or simply offering more vital access routes for remote villages to larger towns.
We’ve even seen instances where bridges are used on film sets to enable the cast and crew to get to difficult-to-reach areas.
Whatever the example, every bridge has the purpose of connecting people and communities, and in Scotland, where there are many rivers, streams, hills and mountains to navigate, the need is even stronger. A temporary bridge, which can be installed quickly by local on-site engineers, is often the ideal solution to develop, improve and repair infrastructure safely and efficiently, with minimal disruption to the public or surrounding landscape.
A bridge for every occasion
Mabey Hire’s temporary bridging solutions are available in both road and footbridge form and, depending on the use-case, provide access for vehicles, pedestrians and highways contractors. Our Quickbridge solution, for example, is modular, meaning it is delivered to the site already assembled and complete with parapets and anti-skid surfacing. Here, engineers can lift the bridge directly from the vehicle onto the prepared bases, and the bridge can be installed in a matter of days.
Our Panel Bridges have a slightly different purpose. Delivered on site in component form, this bridge option helps facilitate the construction of major structures for contractors in areas of restricted access, helping minimise disruption to the public, provide more reliable access for heavy construction vehicles, and avoiding lengthy diversions or delays to the project’s lifecycle.
Installation of these bridges is similarly quick and efficient, averaging from two-three weeks.
A recent example in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, demonstrates the benefits of temporary bridging first-hand. The town has suffered at the hands of flooding for many years, affecting local homes, businesses and causing the evacuation of nearby residents. A new Flood Protection Scheme (FPS) has been designed to protect those homes and businesses which have previously been badly affected by the floods around the River Carron, while also hopefully preventing future flooding incidents. The FPS project includes the construction of walls, embankments, culverts, and alteration to five existing bridges along the Carron Water through Stonehaven. To minimise the disruption of the scheme to pedestrians, three of our quick footbridges will be installed to enable residents to cross the river, while enabling the transportation of project equipment via the river underneath the bridge deck.
The Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan has made great progress in improving connectivity across the country, and we’re delighted to have played a major part in this for many years, during which time we have installed over 100 temporary bridges in the country across many sectors and continue to work with local contractors and engineers to keep this beautiful country connected.