14 May 2010
Scottish Bridges: 7. Myreside Road Footbridge
While I was up in Scotland in April, I spotted by chance another footbridge worth featuring here, although certainly it's not in the same league as the Forthside Footbridge - it cost only £169,000 for a start.
Myreside Road is a fairly quite street in Edinburgh, splitting two sets of playing fields belonging to George Watson's College. The footbridge was built across it in 2000 to provide a safer crossing for schoolchildren, although I wonder whether a pedestrian crossing may have been better value.
The bridge was designed by Patience and Highmore architects, with Peter Stephen & Partners as the engineer. The contractor was Edwards Engineering.
What's interesting about the bridge is simply its unusual configuration, with its tall arch founded at ground level closely followed in profile by the staircases. The arch looks like it has a circular or nearly circular profile, which is not efficient for uniform load let alone for six point loads as applied here, but the lack of efficiency is not a major issue for this small span and loading.
On most steel arch footbridges, the bridge deck is much more level, with staircases or ramps kept well outside the arch, and in many cases the arch is sprung from the same level as the bridge deck. Myreside Road is clearly a constricted site, and every effort has clearly been made to avoid encroaching onto the playing fields.
Ramps have been omitted, presumably for reasons of space and cost. I believe that the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 exempted schools from its provisions.
The use of non-vertical parapet posts on the staircase is also an unusual detail, and I think partly a visually successful one. The ribbed parapet texture has the potential to look good, but seen from closer at hand, it's simply too industrial, like some kind of security barrier. This last photo also shows the bolted arch splices, which are very awkward.
It's not a great bridge, but hopefully was of enough interest to feature here.