13 September 2011

Bridges news roundup: Mega Edition

It's been some time since I've done a roundup of bridge-related news, so there is quite a bit to cover this time ...

Italy's bridges weighed down by locks of love
I recently wrote about the tradition of adorning Wrocław's Tumski Bridge with padlocks as a symbol of marital or romantic commitment. It appears the Venetian authorities are less than keen on seeing the same tradition applied to the Rialto Bridge. I didn't spot any locks when I visited it, but perhaps this was simply because the authorities were quick on the draw with their boltcutters. It's a shame they are less effective at removing graffiti.

Daredevil takes on Gateshead Millennium Bridge stunt
As this video shows, it's not quite as crazy as the original article makes it sound.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge celebrates 10th anniversary
Designer Jim Eyre interviewed.

Barnard Castle Bridge moves step closer
Plans are afoot for a £1.3m, 265m long pedestrian suspension bridge. That strikes me as too little money for that much bridge, unless it really is done on the cheap, forestry-style.

New Tempe Town Lake pedestrian bridge draws attention
As well it should. See this site for more construction images, or play spot the difference.

Diamond idea for bridge
The suggestion is that the proposed New River Wear Crossing in Sunderland (pictured, right) should be named the Diamond Jubilee Bridge as part of a wheeze to help persuade cash out of the central government in order to support what is undoubtedly a local council vanity project. They are not the first to have this idea - you heard it here first.

New Wear Crossing funding bid
Meanwhile, Sunderland have submitted their revised bid for central government cash for the wider highway scheme of which the bridge is only the most prominent part. The bid cuts roughly £15m off the previous estimated £133m scheme cost. Of the new £117.6m figure, roughly £72m is for the bridge itself, with the rest for highways, land and utilities.

An examination of the documents reveals that considerable "value engineering" has taken place (cost-cutting, in normal parlance). The twisty masts of the bridge have been reduced in height, bespoke parapets and road lighting have been replaced with their bog-standard equivalents, and structural finishes have been reduced in quality. An alternative scheme with a conventional bridge is estimated at £109m, although much of that is due to additional design and land purchase work only necessitated by the fact that Sunderland have already spent large sums on the landmark bridge option. The difference between the landmark and alternative schemes is therefore a mere £8.6m, which is frankly almost impossible to believe. Sunderland have also made a commendable effort to calculate the regeneration and employment benefits of the landmark option, which they put at £33m.

Peace Bridge defenders say Toronto crossing not the same
Calatrava's CAN$25m footbridge in Calgary (the subject of many previous posts on this blog) is compared to the CAN$8m Puente de Lux in Toronto (see here). Both are trusses with curved web members, but the similarity ends there. The Toronto span is essentially a Warren truss with pretensions, while the Calatravan helical truss bridge is a more complex beast. And one is yellow and the other one red. Quite, quite different.

Is it all over for £6 million bridge?
Answer: it was probably all over before it ever started. This footbridge in Gainsborough was an ambitious landmark structure (pictured right, and see my previous post for full details) which always seemed at risk of cost escalation, and perhaps over-ambitious for a town which started with no funding in place and remains in the same position. What's odd is that the council granted a local body (now disbanded) £12,000 to develop the initial design but has, apparently, never had any real intention of taking the scheme further. If so, why waste the development cash?

City river footbridge to be lifted into place after year of delays
Hull's £7.5m pedestrian swing bridge (note it was only £6.5m when I last reported, in June) was finally ready for installation after considerable delays due to the local council drip-feeding the finance. It's unclear whether the revolving restaurant will have a tenant yet, or whether lack of cross-river development will make this something of a white elephant.

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