Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project

Year:2019

Duration:18 months

Cost:£12 million
(+£2.3m irrecoverable VAT paid)

Country: Kent, England

People

Rochester has a vibrant tourist economy and the bridges are often a visitor's first experience of the city. Rochester Bridge is a vital river crossing, carrying more than 32,000 vehicles a day.

It's part of the National Cycle Route and requires a significant diversion if closed and so the majority of work was carried out in phases to minimise disruption. The project improved the bridge condition for the benefit of the travelling public.

The quality of the work is set to minimise future maintenance interventions in the interests of sustainability, reduce whole-life costs and future disruption. The refurbishment was part of a wider project to create a Bridge Heritage Quarter.

Committment to the community

The bridges incorporate footways and cycle lanes. A public defibrillator, mental health support and help to vulnerable bridge users was provided. Education and good community communications were a key part of the project.

The Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project showed clear commitment to the community and improving the public perception of engineering.

Engagement with education groups and families meant this enthusiasm for engineering was passed to all ages, ensuring a lasting social legacy. This free service reached beyond the local community, with related online learning activities available for use anywhere in the world.

Despite closing the site for six weeks to adapt to Covid-safe working, the project was completed in December 2020 to a very high quality, on time and under budget.

The bridge is also a striking heritage structure with history spanning 2,000 years. This meant interest in the refurbishment extended beyond the local community, with a range of national and international media coverage.

Carbon offsetting

The project’s carbon footprint was calculated and the Rochester Bridge Trust has committed to offsetting the full impact by establishing a new woodland with 7,600 trees. The carbon generated by diversions has been calculated and a scheme to plant additional trees along the route is being finalised.

The Rochester Bridge Trust is committed to achieving carbon neutrality for bridge maintenance activities by March 2022. Good progress is being made and carbon impact has already been reduced to just 40% of its 2018 level.

100% of recyclable waste was recycled. Additional material – such as granite and paving materials – was reclaimed for reuse. Re-usable water bottles were provided, reducing single-use plastic. Whole-life costs, including maintenance interventions, were accounted for to deliver maximum serviceable lifespan.

The improved public realm and enhanced lighting have been well received and reduced opportunities for anti-social behaviour. All bridge lighting is LED and all electricity used on the bridges is from renewable sources. An electric van was used and has become a permanent part of the ongoing maintenance contract.

The bridges were kept free of litter, barriers were erected to prevent debris falling in the river and encapsulation was used across the site. A full river foreshore clearance was carried out to retrieve large items that had made their way into the river. These were brought back into use or recycled.

Collaborative working

Starting in April 2019, Rochester Bridge was one of the first civil engineering projects to use the NEC4 ECC contract. The Rochester Bridge Trust was Highly Commended as client of the year in the recent NEC Awards and embraced the principles of mutual trust and co-operation throughout. The whole project team was co-located in the site offices, enabling the whole supply chain, including the client, to work together to resolve technical challenges and ensure project values were upheld.

Each road bridge was resurfaced with no longitudinal joint in the wearing course to minimise risk of potholes and disruptive maintenance closures and improve sustainability.

Fascinating facts

You can view the history and evolution of the Rochester Bridge engraved on the granite benches along the esplanade.

100% of recyclable material was recycled and the carbon for the whole project is being offset by the planting of 7,600 trees - including a new mixed woodland and mini orchards planted in schools near to the bridge.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the project was completed to a very high quality, on time and under budget.

People who made it happen

  • Client: Rochester Bridge Trust, led by Sue Threader, Bridge Clerk/CEO ICE Fellow, WES Top 50 Women in Engineering 2021
  • Contractor: FM Conway
  • Bridge Engineer: Arcadis

Explore more civil engineering projects

I want to become a civil engineer.

See how your studies lead to a civil engineering career

The job you end up with in civil engineering is likely to link back to what you studied at school, college or university. Here you can see your options at any age.

Studying at school

Up to 16 years

School / college

15-18 years

College / university

18 years +

Change career

Any age