Since the turn of last century Ferry Road Bridge in Benfleet, Essex has been used by tens of thousands of commuters, travelling between London and Essex. The bridge was originally built to carry the railway over a drainage ditch feeding into Benfleet Creek but in the 1960’s Ferry Road was constructed to remove the need for a level crossing East of the station and allow the uninterrupted passage of traffic underneath the railway.
The original steel structure shown in the photo below (1912) has served Canvey Island and its surroundings well during its life. It has endured constant use by passenger and freight trains, a few bumps from overheight vehicles, being constantly exposed to the elements and corrosive salt water spray, one of the few nuisances of life by the coast. Sadly, this historic structure is now nearing the end of its useful life and has been deemed to have insufficient load capacity in its current state.
A Sympathetic Reconstruction
In order to continue rail service to Benfleet station and its neighbours, Ferry Road Bridge will have to undergo an extensive and invasive reconstruction. The proposed scheme – to be undertaken by BAM Nuttall Ltd on behalf of Network Rail – will retain the beautiful period latticework girders but significantly alter the existing three-span-structures capacity by replacing all six of the main steel decks. The new structure will have the same look and feel as the old and will have the ability to serve the community for a further 125 years!
The construction process will involve the setting up and use of a 500 ton lorry mounted crane, removal of the existing track, demolition and reconstruction of the bridge, installation of the new structure and reinstatement of track, as well as extensive refurbishment to the station platforms. This type of work is incredibly complex and will require full closure of the railway and a section of Ferry Road. This requires considerable coordination to ensure both road users and rail users are impacted as little as possible. The implication of these closures has been carefully considered by all parties and to reduce overall impact. The reconstruction has therefore been planned to take place over 144 hours between 24th December 2012 and 31st December 2012.
A Wealth of Experience to Support the Project
Due to the extremely limited construction period and the complex work schedule, BAM Nuttall Ltd will be utilising one of their most experienced bridge reconstruction teams. The team have safely delivered works of this magnitude up and down the country, generally, like Ferry Road, during the Christmas period when the railway is at its quietest. They will draw on these past projects in order to ensure that Ferry Road, the newly constructed bridge and the refurbished platforms will be fully operational by January 2013.
Although the team are experienced in the successful delivery of time critical bridge reconstructions they’re well aware they are never without their issues. Crane/plant breakdowns, unknown elements of the existing structure causing problems at demolition stage and the delivery of the new bridge decks over Christmas being affected by transport issues are all problems that have been previously encountered. Without doubt something will crop up to challenge the teams ability but who knows what that may be at Christmas 2012 at Ferry Road, Benfleet!