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Bridge Engineering Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers

Bridge Engineering 168 June 2015 Issue BE2

Volume 168 Issue BE2 Pages 8197
MediaCityUK Footbridge, Salford, UK Paper 1300032
Received 12/12/2013 Accepted 19/09/2014
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran Published online 16/01/2015
Keywords: bridges/cables & tendons/steel structures

ice | proceedings ICE Publishing: All rights reserved

MediaCityUK Footbridge, Salford, UK

1 Fabio Gazzola PhD, CEng, MICE, Dott Ing &
3 Peter Curran BSc, CEng, MICE, MIStructE
Principal Engineer, Ramboll, Southampton, UK International Bridge Director, Ramboll, Southampton, UK
2 Steve Thompson EurIng, BEng (Hons), CEng, MICE
Project Director, Ramboll, Southampton, UK

1 2 3

The MediaCityUK Footbridge is an asymmetric, cable-stayed, swing bridge providing pedestrian access into the heart
of the new MediaCityUK development in Salford Quays. This paper examines visual and structural aspects of this
contemporary and unique 100 m long moving footbridge spanning over the Manchester Ship Canal. The paper
describes how the footbridge has been designed to respond to and overcome the conflicts of aspirations, access
requirements and challenging geometrical constraints of its location. Key structural design challenges are discussed,
and the paper describes how these were overcome to provide a spectacular southern pedestrian gateway to the
MediaCityUK development in Salford Quays. The bridge also addresses anticipated future development at Trafford
Wharf to the south of the Manchester Ship Canal and in conjunction with the existing Lowry Bridge enhances
pedestrian links for the area as a whole, celebrating the heritage of the Manchester Ship Canal as a living amenity.

1. Introduction developed specifically for its context; how it overcomes the

In 2007, the Peel Group appointed the design team comprising challenging site constraints, the conflict between the design
Gifford (now Ramboll UK) as lead designer and structural aspirations for quayside access, navigation clearance con-
engineer, Wilkinson Eyre Architects as the architect, and straints, and key design constraints for restricted mobility
Bennett Associates (now Atkins) as the mechanical and access in order to meet the clients brief and aspirations, while
electrical engineer to design the new opening footbridge over enhancing connectivity between the two development sites on
the Manchester Ship Canal. The main contractor, Balfour either side of the canal.
Beatty, appointed Ken Grubb as the specialist mechanical and
electrical (M&E) designer. 2. Site
2.1 Built context
The bridge links the new MediaCityUK development on Salford The site location has been extensively regenerated since the
Quays to the north, with the Trafford Quays on the south, closure of the docks at Salford in the 1980s (for an aerial
adjacent to the Imperial War Museum North. The bridge was photograph see Figure 1). The strongest expression of this
constructed by Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited who regeneration can be found immediately upstream with the two
appointed Rowecord Engineering as their steelwork subcon- architecturally expressive neighbours: the Lowry Centre and
tractor. Work on site was completed in spring 2011. Imperial War Museum North. Also nearby, the Lowry Bridge,
built in 1999, makes an equally strong visual impact on the
In addition to the physical site constraints the client, the Peel environment. Salford Quays also have a rich historic heritage,
Group, also held aspirations for the bridge to be a highly once lined with warehouses and movable cranes. These
visible landmark a destination that would ultimately distinctive structures, although utilitarian, provide a strong
become synonymous with the new MediaCityUK development visual precedent that has been exploited with the design of the
and with the wider area of Salford Quays. As such, it was a new footbridge. The design for the footbridge has been
requirement that the design be unique and memorable so that developed by taking visual and symbolic cues from these
the bridge would grasp the imagination of its users and of local contemporary and historic landmarks alike to provide a
residents. This paper will demonstrate how the design has been sympathetic yet strikingly unique identity of its own.


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

wishing to use the promenade walkway at the canal edge. A

ramp springing directly from the quay edge would not form
such an obstacle and would provide unhindered access onto
the bridge deck.

Unfortunately, the three constraints of navigation envelope,

deck gradient and quayside touch-down described above are
irreconcilable (see Figure 2). It is only possible to satisfy two of
these requirements with any single design. It was agreed
therefore, in consultation with the client, the Harbour Master
and the planning authorities, to accept a slightly steeper footway
gradient of 1:15 (6?67%), which remained within the acceptable
limits of the design standards. The same gradient was also
adopted for the northern approach ramp, which extends over
the quayside into the MediaCityUK development. However, it is
Figure 1. MediaCityUK aerial view 2011 (copyright of the
only 1?25 m above quayside level, therefore visual continuity for
University of Salford Press Office. The original unedited file, is
pedestrians is preserved parallel to the canal. Physical connec-
available from
tion is sustained by steps, which serve to maintain pedestrian
movement at the waters edge. The gradient on the southern
licence terms can be found at
approach ramp is lessened to 1 in 20 as it curves seamlessly
interfacing with the new sinuous quay structure forming the new
public realm adjacent to the Imperial War Museum North.

The new footbridge also responds to the practicalities of the site.

In addition, the 4?77 m minimum height of the navigation
The MediaCityUK master plan defines an interconnected
envelope has been preserved for a 10 m width beneath the
network of public spaces. These embrace the canal-side location,
closed bridge. In the open position, a navigation channel of
enable dramatic vistas and define desire lines for pedestrians.
clear width 48 m is provided by the slewing opening mechan-
Views and pedestrian movements have all helped to define the
ism of the bridge with unrestricted height.
final design. Like all bridges, the MediaCityUK Footbridge
exists to traverse an obstacle. The obstacle here is the Manchester
Ship Canal, which although less used than in its heyday, must 3. Footbridge design
still be maintained as a commercial waterway so that large vessels
3.1 Conceptual design
can continue to use the canal and pass beneath the bridge.
In order to harmonise the height of the bridge deck above the
water with the navigation headroom constraints and conse-
2.2 Vertical alignment quently to alleviate the gradients and the length of the
The bridge satisfies dual headroom requirements by providing a approach ramps, the curved edge of the deck is supported
navigable channel for large vessels when swung open and for low from above by stay cables (see Figure 3). The stay cables are
air draft vessels when in the closed position. It is the requirement self-anchored to the deck superstructure to enable the bridge to
for navigation in the closed position, as defined by the Harbour swing open for the passage of vessels. The structure beneath
Master for the Manchester Ship Canal, which determined the the walking surface of the deck is thus minimised in order to
profile of the pedestrian deck for the new footbridge. This was maximise air draft beneath the bridge in the closed position
set to a height of 4?77 m above water level, to match that for the and to provide the bridge with an elegant lightweight
existing Lowry Footbridge upstream. appearance when viewed in elevation.

Design gradients for inclines on bridge structures are defined in The bridge comprises two spans (see Figure 4). The main span
BD 29/04 (DfT, 2004). The maximum preferred gradient for a that traverses the navigation channel is approximately 65 m
bridge deck is 1:20 (5%), although steeper inclines up to an long, with a short back span of approximately 18 m at the
absolute maximum of 1:12 (8?3%) can be considered under south of the bridge where the bridge flares out in response to
exceptional circumstances dictated by the constraints of a site. the pedestrian desire lines both to the east and west on the
An original aspiration of the client was to minimise or south quayside. It is this back span, assisted by the flaring in
eliminate the requirement for any ramp structure at the plan and increased depth, which forms the counterweight to
quayside at the northern abutment. It was felt that such a balance the asymmetric spans during opening. The bridge takes
ramp would create a physical and visual barrier for pedestrians this asymmetric span arrangement in order to position the


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Approximate location
of adjacent building c
at northern abutment

Gradient of approach Quayside

Navigation envelope +23.810 m
ramps = 1:15 10 m wide
4.77 m high
Nominal water level +21.680 m 30 m wide
4.26 m high Approx. 19 m
Bridge does not touch
Mean silt level +19.500 m down at grade with the
dock edge
Ramps encroach onto
the quayside

At grade touch-down at quaysides: non-compliant Note

30 m 4.77 m navigation envelope: compliant Vertical scale is
Gradient of approach ramp: compliant exaggerated by 5

Figure 2. Constraints to vertical alignment

pivot support outside of the turning zone for a 120 m vessel The reason for the adopted structural form is twofold: to minimise
(the maximum permitted on the canal) manoeuvring into and the construction depth below deck level and to provide a stiff deck,
out of the adjacent dock basin (see Figure 5). able to resist the applied permanent and variable actions by means
of cable stays anchored eccentrically. A steel deck was preferred to
The main span of the deck is supported at 6 m centres using concrete, because the latter would have made the superstructure
eight cable stays. Each fore stay has an identical inclination to too heavy. As the construction depth below deck level is limited to
a horizontal plane, but each is successively rotated in plan such 715 mm, this alone was not sufficient to achieve the target flexural
that it is tangential to the curved deck edge. The result is a and torsional stiffness. Therefore, the steel box was split into two
dramatic warp to the plane of stay cables above the pedestrian, cells. A deeper triangular nosing cell (extending 635 mm above the
which appears to envelop the bridge users as they move across orthotropic deck plate for the full length of the bridge deck) is
the bridge. Structurally, by connecting the stays tangentially placed to the side of a shallower footway box. In elevation the
with the deck, only axial load is transferred between deck and nosing cell height was disguised by the inclined flanges and the
stay at the point of application, minimising out of plane load dark shadows created by the bottom inclined flange. In the main
effects and limiting them to eccentricity and tolerances from span, the footway box has a maximum construction depth of
fabrication. Each stay cable passes over an individual pylon at 715 mm and varies in width. Steel box plate thicknesses range
high level before returning to the bridge deck at the southern from 15 to 40 mm and generally are of S355 J2+N steel grade.
edge of the large, flared back span, where the back stay Where through-thickness stresses are expected to be significant,
anchorages form a focal point. class Z35 steel with improved deformation properties perpendi-
cular to their surface is utilised. The steel box supports an open
The bridge was designed in accordance with the requirements grillage of inverted T transverse cantilever beams placed at 3?0 m
of the Design Manual for Road Bridges (DfT, 2008) and centres, supporting in turn a small western edge triangular nosing
BS 5400 (BSI, 2006). box and longitudinal T stringers placed at 750 mm spacing.
Exposed open flange outstands are limited to a maximum of
3.2 Deck 75 mm, to discourage bird roosting. Open mesh aluminium
The typical main span deck cross-section comprises a twin cell decking panels are provided over the steel grillage, spanning
orthotropic steel box: a shallow trapezoidal footway cell and a across the longitudinal stringers. This is a proprietary decking
triangular nosing cell (see Figure 6). system with non-slip finish, which provides a degree of


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Bridge Engineering
Volume 168 Issue BE2

Transverse stays
Painted steel hollow masts

Navigation lights

Backstays Forestays

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In situ reinforced concrete Bespoke fabricated
abutment and quay structure spherical bearings
Future quay side 1:15 slope from Fabricated steel mast plinth 27.519 In situ reinforced
works to tie in s to 1:15 slope
bridge transition 1:15 Ramps concrete abutment
to end of ramp 1:20 slope on ram
23.600 In situ
reinforced Normal water level = 21.680

4770 min.

4260 min.
4260 min.

concrete pier
Salford, UK

10 000
Approximate silt level Driven steel piles
30 000
Existing quay wall
East elevation

Mass concrete
MediaCityUK Footbridge,

Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Figure 3. Bridge elevation (dimensions in mm)

Bridge Engineering
Volume 168 Issue BE2

18 010 Approximate back span 65 365 Approximate forward span

Fabricated steel nosing
on in situ reinforced


30 0
concrete wall Nav

igati 00

on c

71 rota
10 0 nel
igati 00

. 00 tion
on c
Precast concrete stairs han

Manually operated gate housings

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Manually operated gates

Future quay side

works to tie in In situ reinforced concrete
to end of ramp abutment cantilevering over

hip C
existing quay walls on driven
steel concrete filled piles

ter S
Access hatches
to plant room

Salford, UK

In situ reinforced concrete ramp with

in situ reinforced concrete nosing
Driven tubular steel piles with in situ
reinforced concrete capping beam and
in situ reinforced concrete slab on
permanent formwork Plan
Manually operated
gate housings
MediaCityUK Footbridge,

Figure 4. Bridge plan (dimensions in mm)

Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

web. A closing plug weld is then used to weld the diaphragm to

the bottom inclined flange. Stay anchorage plates penetrate the
nosing cell at 6?0 m centres on the same gridline where box
diaphragms are located. The deck box is a fully welded
structure and is fully sealed against the ingress of moisture.
Where deck penetrations are required to accommodate
electrical conduits, fully welded stainless steel pipes are
provided, to ensure that the box is fully sealed to air and
water ingress.

The flared and deepened back span comprises an open steel

trough structure between the eastern nosing box and the
western cantilever edge section (see Figure 8). The steel trough
is filled with concrete to form a composite section and to
provide the counterweight required to balance the super-
Figure 5. View of MediaCityUK Footbridge from the Imperial War
structure while supported on the marine pier only. A varying
Museum North
trough depth (from 715 to 1865 mm) enables attainment of the
target concrete volume. The 1518 mm thick soffit plate in this
region is stiffened longitudinally by plate stiffeners spanning
transparency to the structure and a contrasting surface to the 3 m between transverse plate girders. These in turn span
epoxy grit coating applied to the footway box. between longitudinal steel girders and the eastern steel box.
The top flanges of transverse and longitudinal beams are set
Stainless steel parapet posts are fixed to the eastern and below the finished floor level, to ensure that they are fully
western edge boxes by means of stainless steel lugs. Parapet encased by concrete and not to impede the placement of the
posts support stainless steel handrails. Infill panels comprising top reinforcement mat. Composite action is achieved with
horizontal stainless steel rectangular bars are provided on the shear studs placed at regular centres on the soffit and on the
western parapet (see Figure 7). web plates.

Through transverse diaphragms are placed at 3?0 m centres on The back stays are anchored above deck level. This makes
the spine box. The diaphragm plate is welded with a double- them easily accessible during installation as well as future
sided fillet weld to the top inclined flange and to the vertical maintenance and inspection. The same detail also incorporates
T section

T section



1350 East nosing box 2650 Footway box 1 700 700

5 mm thick epoxy

grit surfacing


4 5

Cable tray and luminaires fixed

to steel plates welded to nosing
Transverse web
Projected transverse cantilever beam
beam soffit 500

Figure 6. Main span typical deck cross-section: CHS, circular

hollow section; CL, centre line (dimensions in mm)


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Figure 7. Pedestrian parapets

a bench, cantilevered from the anchorage assembly. This

makes the anchorage more visible and demarcates the head-
room clearance envelope to the stays.

The greatest magnitude of the bending moment and shear

forces in the deck are found at the pivot position. At this
location the mast axial loads also transfer to the pier support,
which additionally allows for the rotation of the superstructure
while maintaining access requirements into the plant room.
Figure 9. Mast array

Safe and practical access to the plant room is provided for

personnel by means of a ships ladder with a power assisted of the deck and soffit plates) enables the load transfer between
hatch located in the deck. Access for the replacement of larger back and main span to the bridge pivot assembly while
mechanical and electrical components is provided for through providing for the deck penetrations into the plant room.
a larger deck penetration with a removable, bolted hatch.
3.3 Masts
A cruciform arrangement of four plate girders within the deck One striking feature of the MediaCityUK Footbridge is its
construction depth (top and bottom flanges are an integral part fanned mast array (see Figure 9). It comprises eight masts of
Section crank

1350 East
nosing box
Trough tip details as detail 1
on drg. 13929/BR/406 except
no transverse cantilever beam
125 TOC

Nominal 5 mm thick
to TOS

Shaded area denotes

epoxy grit surfacing in situ reinforced

concrete infill

Shear studs on soffit

plate to be located 2650
between longitudinal

Figure 8. Back span typical cross-section: CHS, circular hollow

section; CL, centre line; TOC, top of concrete; TOS, top of steel
(dimensions in mm)


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Figure 11. Mast bearings and pedestal

The pedestal welded steel assembly comprises thick wall

circular hollow sections (219 mm diameter, 40 mm thick)
linked by gusset plates. The pedestal is located in the same
plane of the masts above and it is in turn welded to the bridge
Figure 10. Mast under fabrication deck steelwork. The pedestal is seated directly over the steel
casting assembly integrated into the deck steelwork transfer-
ring the loading from the superstructure to the substructure by
varying length (from 17?2 to 30?4 m) and inclination. They are means of the slewing bearing.
fabricated with hot rolled circular hollow section (508 mm
diameter, 25 mm thick) tapering at both the tip and the base of Each mast supports a single fore stay and back stay. A
the mast. Their overall shape resembles that of a fuselage. This transverse force is induced at the tips of the masts because the
was achieved by bending the tubes first, cutting a straight mast axis does not lie on the plane of the two stay cables
section from each bent tube and then welding two of the attached to it. Therefore, overall equilibrium of the mast array
components together to form a tapered end section (see is achieved by linking adjacent mast tips with a pair of stainless
Figure 10). The longer masts have a middle circular hollow steel solid bars (see Figure 12).
section welded to the two tapering ends. The masts are fully
welded and sealed against the ingress of moisture, such that the
internal surfaces of the masts are maintenance free.

As the masts converge towards their base they are supported

on stainless steel spherical knuckle bearings (90 mm radius,
1500 kN maximum ultimate limit state (ULS) radial load).
These are mounted to the underside of the masts with bolts
and are welded to the steel pedestal (see Figure 11). These
are proprietary bearings with a sliding liner consisting of
polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fibres in a resin matrix. The
liner is bonded to the upper concave part of the bearing unit.

Because the cross-section of the masts varies along their length,

the design against compression strut buckling was carried out
with the aid of finite-element (FE) eigenvalue buckling
analyses. Each mast was modelled with shell elements and Figure 12. Mast tip cross ties
pinned at both ends.


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

incorporated in the stays lower anchorage (70 mm turn-

buckle and jacking hole in deck anchorage plate) to accom-
modate tolerances during the construction stages, to facilitate
the adjustment of deck profile alignment and to facilitate future
maintenance and replacement. The Ernst equation was used to
calculate the equivalent axial stiffness of the truss elements
representing the stay cables in the FE model. This allowed the
modelling of the non-linear behaviour of the stays due to their
sag when subject to permanent actions.

Forty-eight millimetre dia. stainless steel bars with 460 MPa

minimum yield stress are incorporated as tension ties linking
the masts at their tips. As with the main stays, the tie bars are
installed to predefined lengths. However, each bar incorporates
a turnbuckle to facilitate future maintenance and adjustment.
Figure 13. Stay anchorage to stays Each threaded bar end is fitted with a fork socket for
anchoring to steel lugs projecting from the mast tips. Since
the stay installation operations as well as transient loads induce
A cruciform assembly of three gusset plates through the mast relative movements between mast tips, plane spherical bearings
cross-section provides the tension load path between stays and are mounted onto the tie bar lug pin holes. These facilitate tie
transverse tension bars. The main stay cables are attached to bar pin axis rotation relative to the stay plane. Since these
the same gusset plate with improved through-thickness pro- tension ties are critical to the stability of the mast structure,
perties. In turn, the two gusset plates for the tension ties redundancy is achieved by providing two ties between each
attachments are butt welded to this. pair of masts. The provision of the second tie also facilitates
the replacement of these structural components, if needed.
3.4 Stay cables
Sixty millimetre dia. spiral strand cables are used for the fore When the bridge is in the open configuration, the deck is
and back stays. The helically spun galvanised round wires supported at the pivot position only and stays are self-
(1570 MPa ultimate tensile strength) are lubricated and coated anchoring. Controlling mast movements and deck alignment
internally and externally with a proprietary protective system. proved to be particularly challenging. At the initial state, the
Each stay is supplied with one fork socket, anchored onto a bridge is in the open configuration, subject to all of the
steel lug at the mast tip (see Figure 13), and one adjustable fork permanent loads and stay preloads. Stay preloads are defined
socket, anchored to a steel lug projecting from the deck edge in the FE analysis as lack-of-fit strains. These had to be
box (see Figure 14). The stays are installed to a predefined calculated separately, in advance of the FE analysis. The
design length. However, provisions for adjustment are adopted method is as follows. The influence matrix for the
eight vertical displacements of the main span stay anchorages
and the eight horizontal displacements of the mast tip
anchorages induced by stay unit strains (eight fore stay and
eight back stays) was calculated. The resulting linear system
comprises 16 unknown and 16 equations. A theoretical closed-
form solution is therefore possible, and an initial set of lack-of-
fit strains was determined. However, this approach provided
some impractical stay preloads: some exceeded the stay tensile
breaking load and some were compressive. A range of possible
solutions was then determined by using the least squares
method instead. In a further refinement, the influence matrix
for the stay loads also induced by stay unit strains was
calculated, so that for each possible solution the corresponding
stay loads could be calculated directly instead of running the
bridge FE model each time. Finally, the optimum solution was
Figure 14. Stay anchorage to deck determined by using the least squares method in which
maximum and minimum constraints were imposed on the stay


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

load values due to permanent loads and preloads. All of the

above calculations were carried out on spreadsheets.

Due to the lack of a direct tension load path to ground for the
back stays for the bridge in the open configuration, it is not
possible to compensate fully for the deck deflection due to
permanent loads with the stay preloads alone. Therefore, all
the upwards deflections of the back span and the residual
deflections of the main span at the initial state are additionally
compensated with the specification of a deck precamber. This
included vertical, horizontal and deck twist presets.

3.5 Substructure and foundations

Beneath the canal where the main marine pier is located, the
Figure 16. South abutment piled foundation
ground conditions consist of 5?0 m thick, soft, silty canal bed
deposits overlying weather sandstone. The relatively shallow
depth from bed level to competent bedrock enabled the bridge in situ reinforced concrete beam and slab elements with
to be supported on a single 13 m dia. mass concrete caisson participating permanent formwork, supported off the piles. In
foundation. The deck in turn is supported from, and pivots situ reinforced concrete retaining structures form the approach
about, the centre of a 9 m dia., solid reinforced concrete ramps and supports for precast reinforced concrete steps. The
marine pier (see Figure 15). This pier incorporates the plant new abutment deck is cast against the existing quay to provide a
room above water level in which the slewing bearing and horizontal load path to ground to resist ship impact forces.
associated mechanical and electrical equipment necessary for
operating the bridge are housed. Similarly, an independent reinforced concrete abutment
supported off driven tubular piles has been provided on the
Driven tubular steel piles with a minimum 150 mm embedment Salford side of the canal. Again this abutment does not impart
into the rock layer provide support for both abutment structures any additional vertical load to the existing masonry quay wall,
(see Figure 16). A condition survey and load assessment of the but it provides a horizontal load path and shear interlock to
existing Trafford quayside structures indicated limited capacity ground to resist ship impact by means of the Trafford
to carry loading in excess of general pedestrian loading. quayside.
Therefore, an independent abutment structure has been
constructed on the Trafford side of the canal in order to ensure 3.6 Articulation and bridge operation
that no additional vertical loading from the bridge is imparted
Several points of restraint are provided for the bridge. A pivot
onto existing quay structures. This abutment comprises a grid of on the main pier at the centre of rotation locates the bridge
about the horizontal plane. At the north abutment the nose of
the main deck is given vertical and lateral support when
closed; that is, in the normal bridging position. The counter-
weight tail is similarly given vertical and lateral support at the
south abutment.

The pivot assembly for the bridge comprises a 2?2 m dia. steel
casting, welded monolithically to the steel bridge deck. To this,
a 2?3 m dia. slewing bearing is mounted, which in turn is
supported on a steel plate stool structure. The lower support
stool is prestressed down to the main pier plant room floor
with a cluster of 48, 50 mm dia., high tensile bars (2?0 MN
minimum breaking load, prestressed to 50% of their ultimate
tensile strength). Figure 17 shows the high tensile bars group
before being cast into the marine pier. This arrangement
provides vertical support; it resists the overturning moment
Figure 15. Marine pier generated about the horizontal axes and provides horizontal
restraint to the bridge in both open and closed configuration.


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

steel casting. The steel grade was selected to ensure high notch
toughness. The results average of Charpy impact tests conducted
at 230 C was 173 J before and 84 J after heat and tempering
treatments. A high level of integrity, that is lack of surface or
subsurface defects that could act as crack initiation points, was
also required. Possible locked-in radial tensile stresses due to
welding of the steel casting to the deck and soffit plate were
avoided by splitting the surrounding deck into segments and
welding them to the casting first and to adjacent parts last.

Four locking pins are located on the bridge deck: two on the
nose end and two on the tail end. Corresponding interlocking
steel sockets are cast into the north and south abutment.
Vertical and horizontal bridge end supports are achieved by
engaging the locking pins into abutment sockets. A vertical
jacking mechanism is also incorporated at the nose end only.
The electrohydraulic power packs for driving the locking pins
and vertical jacks are located in recesses within the bridge deck
at the nose and the tail. This equipment can be accessed and
maintained from deck level, by way of access hatches.

The vertical alignment of the bridge deck in the open

configuration is such that for all environmental loads the
bridge nose end is always lower than the northern, Salford side,
Figure 17. Holding-down system comprising high tensile bars
abutment and the tail is always higher than the southern,
Trafford side, abutment. A set precamber is provided to the
The 13 t steel casting was favoured over a steel plate assembly design vertical alignment of the closed configuration. The set
for ease of construction and accommodation of all of the precamber, the nose jacking mechanism and the chosen
identified load paths. Figure 18 shows the pivot assembly prior interlocking sequence are all part of the design strategy to
to welding to the bridge deck. This was a contractor-designed achieve the design end supports to the bridge in its closed
item, with performance specification provided by Ramboll. configuration. This was developed as an alternative to the
Avoidance of brittle failure was a main concern in the design of more conventional opening/closing sequence for swing bridges,
the steel casting, which was designed to BS 7910 (BSI, 2005). whereby the entire superstructure is lifted up at the pivot
This is because the applied loads induce tensile stresses in the position in order to achieve lift-off from the end supports.

During the bridge closing sequence the nose jacking mechanism

first lifts the deck to the correct height to remove any deflection
due to permanent and environmental loads. Then the nose,
followed by tail locking pins after, are inserted by hydraulic
rams. The final alignment of pins and sockets is achieved by
means of wedge action of the tapered pin ends against the bush
plates mounted on the abutment steel sockets. The nose vertical
jacks are then released to ensure that the load of the deck is not
resting on hydraulic actuators (see Figure 19(a)19(c)). The
opening sequence is the reverse of the closing sequence.

Due to the relatively narrow central pier diameter the

mechanism to rotate the bridge is mounted on the bridge
slewing bearing support stool. Therefore, it reacts against the
fixed pier. The slewing bearing consists of an outer race with
drive rack mounted onto the bridge deck steel casting above;
Figure 18. Casting steel pivot assembly the inner race is instead mounted on the support stool
underneath. The drive mechanism consists of six hydraulic


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

(a) (b)


Figure 19. Bridge closing sequence: (a) jacks touch-down; (b) deck
nose lift; (c) jacks lift-off

planetary pinion gears equally spaced around the support the bridge operator on the south side with a wireless interlock to
stool. The pinions are driven by individual hydraulic motors. the operating system to confirm that it is safe to operate the
They each rotate simultaneously the circular rack and therefore bridge.
the bridge deck. Figure 20 shows the slewing bearing prior to
the erection of the bridge deck: it is mounted only on the lower Navigation signals consisting of a single red and single green
support stool by way of pretensioned bolts, and pinions are light are installed on each approach to the bridge, on one side
also not yet mounted. The electrohydraulic power packs that of the canal, to allow for the control of marine craft.
provide the pressurised oil to the motors are also located in the Navigation marker lights are suspended from the soffit of the
plant room housed within the central pier, along with the bridge to mark the 10 m wide channel with maximum 4?77 m
electrical control equipment. headroom clearance with the bridge in the closed position.

The bridge is operated from the south abutment. The control 3.7 Dynamic behaviour
interface is a simple pendant control panel that contains the At the start of the detailed design, a desk study was conducted
controls required for normal operation. The pendant is stored in accordance with BD 49 to establish the aerodynamic
securely behind finishes that form the barriers when the bridge performance of the footbridge, both in the open and closed
is opened for vessels. Access to the pendant is only possible configuration, and its susceptibility to vortex shedding oscilla-
once the barriers are in place, closing the bridge to pedestrians. tions and galloping/flutter instability.
The barriers on both the north and south abutments are
manually operated by appropriately trained staff. The personnel Rules defined in BD 49/01 (DfT, 2001b) are valid when the value
responsible for the north abutment barriers have contact with of the susceptibility parameter is less than 1?0. Furthermore, the


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Figure 21. Bridge open configuration, first vertical mode of

frequency of 0?28 Hz

turbulence. Additional tests were also carried out to assess the

Figure 20. Slewing bearing mounted on support stool
effect of the turbulence on the vortex shedding response.

Wind tests showed no divergent instabilities within the design

wind speed for both open and closed configurations. In the
deck layout has to comply with the specified geometrical
closed configuration, the worst vortex shedding-induced oscilla-
constraints. Since the MediaCityUK Footbridge does not
tions were calculated for smooth flow conditions, at the east side
comply with such geometrical constraints and the susceptibility
of the bridge downstream, 0 wind angle, 0?023 logdec damping
parameter was calculated to be 2?8 in the open configuration, its
and wind speed of 14 m/s, where the maximum full-scale
aerodynamic behaviour had to be determined by means of wind
displacement amplitude was calculated to be 70 mm. When
tunnel tests.
allowance was made for higher structural damping (0?03 logdec
representative of steel decks) and the effect of turbulence (Iu 5
In accordance with BD 37/01 (DfT, 2001a), the maximum wind
5%) the full-scale displacement amplitude was calculated to be
gust speed for the bridge in the closed configuration was
30 mm. In the open configuration, no vortex shedding responses
calculated to be 26 m/s. The bridge is not to open for measured
were observed at 0 wind incidence.
wind gust speeds greater than 22 m/s at 1?6 m above bridge
deck. However, the extreme event whereby the bridge has been Since the fundamental frequency of horizontal vibration was
opened (or partially opened) under normal operating condi- calculated to be higher than 1?5 Hz, no further investigations
tions, but has first become inoperable due to a fault condition had to be carried out to address the possibility of horizontal
and then wind gust speed increases above the normal operating excitation when the bridge is used by crowds.
limit up to 26 m/s, was also considered.
The maximum vertical acceleration was calculated in accor-
The wind tunnel tests were carried out in an aeronautical wind dance with BD 37/01, in which a pulsating vertical point load
tunnel using a two-dimensional 1:12?5 scale section model of (synchronous with fundamental vertical frequency, maximum
the bridge deck. Due to the asymmetric form of the deck, tests intensity of 180 N) traverses the main span at a constant speed.
were conducted for wind approaching both sides for both The results of the time history analysis showed vertical
closed and open bridge configurations. Measurements were acceleration significantly less than the limiting acceleration of
made for angles of incidence varying from 25 to +5 and 0?575 m/s2. The maximum vertical acceleration due to the
damping levels in the range of 0?02 to 0?09 logdec. For the passage of a single pedestrian as well as pedestrian groups was
bridge in the closed configuration the first vertical bending, also investigated in accordance with BS EN 1991:2 (BSI, 2003),
horizontal bending and torsion frequencies were 1?42, 3?77 and which was found to be within the specified limits.
5?43 Hz, respectively. For the bridge in the open configuration
the first vertical bending (see Figure 21), horizontal bending 3.8 Lighting
and torsion frequencies were 0?28, 0?46 and 1?80 Hz, Task lighting and aesthetic lighting is provided on the bridge
respectively. Wind tests also determined the steady-state wind and its approaches. Task lighting provides illumination of the
load coefficients. In accordance with BD 49/01 (BSI, 2001b), public access areas to provide a safe and secure environment
tests were carried out in smooth flow. However, bridges for pedestrians during the hours of darkness. This takes the
located in urban areas are characterised by varying levels of form of a continuously backlit glazed lighting box comprising


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Figure 22. Night view of MediaCityUK Footbridge

laminated glass for safety and supported from stainless steel support the five sections of the deck while the welded splices
carrier frames to form the eastern parapet. Additional light- were completed and the pivot casting was welded into the
emitting diode (LED) lighting housed between parapet posts underside of the deck box. The fanned array of masts was
along the western parapet further enhances the deck illumina- erected onto the permanent spherical bearings on their bearing
tion. Separate task lighting is provided within the main pier pedestal above the pivot, complete with transverse tie bars at
plant room to allow maintenance personnel safe access within their tips. Stability of the masts was temporarily provided by a
the plant room. steel support frame braced off the deck superstructure (see
Figure 25).
Aesthetic lighting is provided throughout to highlight and
emphasise the dramatic form of the structure at night. The The design of the slewing mechanism of the bridge relied on the
lighting has been designed in such a way so as not to distract bridge being balanced slightly nose heavy but within specified
the vessel operators on the canal. Aesthetic lighting includes limits (10003000 kNm). To achieve this, the centre of gravity
deck soffit lighting; mast up-lighters (see Figure 11), and of the steelwork was assessed during the detailed design in
handrail LEDs to provide a light wash over the eastern nosing order to define the density of concrete required to maintain the
to the deck. All aesthetic lighting comprises individually balance within the defined limits. This resulted in the specifica-
controlled colour-changing luminaires to facilitate variable tion of a hardened concrete density of 2550 50 kg/m3. Prior to
scene settings, which are programmed to tie in with the wider concreting the back span, the centre of gravity and total weight
MediaCityUK lighting strategy. Figure 22 shows a night view of the as-built steelwork had to be established in order to
of the bridge. confirm the concrete density values calculated at the detailed
design stage. This was achieved by jacking up the bridge at all
All lighting units have been designed to be robust and tamper temporary support positions by 130 mm, in increments of
proof, inaccessible to pedestrians, yet readily accessible for 10 mm. Weight readings were then taken from the load cells
maintenance personnel to facilitate lamp replacement easily
and safely.

4. Construction
The steelwork for the deck and masts was fabricated off site in
fabrication workshops in Newport and Swansea, South Wales.
The deck and masts were fabricated and delivered to site in
section sizes suitable for road transport, the deck being split
into five discrete sections (Figure 23 shows a back span section
under fabrication). The client, the Peel Group, made available
to the construction team the land on the Trafford quayside for
assembly of the bridge adjacent to and parallel with the south
edge of the canal (see Figure 24). This removed significant
health and safety risks associated with erecting and assembling
large, heavy steelwork segments over water, significantly
simplifying temporary support arrangements in addition. Figure 23. Back span under fabrication
Temporary stillages were erected parallel to the quay edge to


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Figure 26. Stay tensioning

Figure 24. Construction yard on Trafford quayside

actual required concrete volume and density. Tests on the

placed on each hydraulic jack. This jacking operation was
proposed concrete mix were then undertaken to verify that the
repeated three times. The three sets of in situ data were then
hardened concrete density was compliant with specified
analysed and compared with the design calculations. The output
tolerances. Further tests were also undertaken to correlate the
from these jacking operations enabled an assessment of the
plastic concrete density of the fresh concrete with that of
hardened concrete. In this way each batch of concrete delivered
to site could be monitored for plastic density.

Once the back span concrete was cast and had attained
sufficient early strength, the main fore stays and back stays
were installed. During stay installation it was important to
keep the masts array as balanced as possible in order to
minimise the imposed loads on the mast temporary support
frame, mast movements and already installed stay loads. To
achieve this, the middle pair of fore and back stays was stressed
first. The following pairs were then installed by alternating
each side of the group of stays already installed. Stressing of
each fore and back stay pair was controlled incrementally. This
was achieved by operating two sets of tensioning equipment at
the same time, mounted on the adjustable socket and engaged
in the jacking hole provided in the deck anchorage plate (see
Figure 26). Stay lengths, stay forces, temporary support
reactions, deck and mast displacements were carefully mon-
itored throughout the process and compared against design FE
analyses to determine whether further adjustments were
necessary at each stage so that the final profile of the bridge
deck was achieved.

Once stay stressing was completed the bridge was supported at

the pivot position only (see Figure 27). Finally, it was moved
approximately 50 m from its temporary assembly position on
the quay side to the permanent pivot support over the canal.
Figure 25. Erection of mast array This was undertaken in a single continuous 36 h sliding
operation (see Figure 28). To accomplish this, the 900 t bridge


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

Figure 27. Bridge superstructure prior to slide operation Figure 29. Bridge superstructure near completion of sliding

needed to be jacked up 600 mm off the temporary quayside and bolted onto the slewing bearing whereby the remainder of
supports on four jacks located 2?65 m radially about the deck the mechanical and electrical equipment could be installed and
pivot position and transferred down onto a support frame the operating system fully commissioned.
mounted on four skid shoes. These in turn were placed onto
two skid tracks supported on 2?0 m deep skid beams. The 5. Conclusions
four jacking positions coincided with the permanent jacking The MediaCityUK Footbridge was officially opened to the
positions designed for pivot bearing replacement, each with a public in May 2011. It is an asymmetric swing bridge, which
3000 kN ULS design capacity. Thus, to control out of balance provides a striking pedestrian gateway over the Manchester
jack reactions the slide operation was undertaken within a clear Ship Canal into the new MediaCityUK complex. In conjunc-
weather window with a maximum wind criteria of force 4 and tion with the existing Lowry Bridge it enhances the pedestrian
decreasing (maximum 8 m/s). The bridge was then incremen- link between Salford and Trafford Quay.
tally pushed forward skidding over Teflon pads fixed to the
skid tracks using hydraulic cylinders reacting against locking The adopted structural configuration is unique: it includes an
points in the skid tracks. At the end of each stroke the cylinders unusual fanned mast array supporting the cable stays. It has
were then retracted and pulled towards the skid shoes, re- been designed to respond to a specific set of site constraints
engaging the locking device and continuing the skid process and client aspirations. The elegant solution has been achieved
until the bridge was located over the slewing ring in the main through an effective and fruitful collaboration between bridge
pier (see Figure 29). At this point the bridge was jacked down designer, architect, steel fabricator and specialist designers. As
a testament to this, it has won several awards for design
excellence, including the Institution of Structural Engineers
Structural Awards 2011 award for pedestrian bridges, the
North West Civil Engineering Awards 2012 large project of the
year award, the Structural Steel Design Awards 2012 foot-
bridge category award and the North West Royal Institution
of Chartered Surveyors Awards 2012 infrastructure category

The authors would like to acknowledge the role and vision of
the client, the Peel Group, in the successful delivery of an
award-winning piece of infrastructure.


Figure 28. Bridge superstructure during sliding BSI (2003) BS EN 1991-2:2003: Eurocode 1. Actions on
structures. Traffic loads on bridges. BSI, London, UK.


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Bridge Engineering MediaCityUK Footbridge,
Volume 168 Issue BE2 Salford, UK
Gazzola, Thompson and Curran

BSI (2005) BS 7910:2005: Guide to methods for assessing the DfT (2001b) BD 49/01. Design Rules for Aerodynamic
acceptability of flaws in metallic structures. BSI, London, UK. Effects on Bridges. Her Majestys Stationery Office,
BSI (2006) BS 5400:2006: Steel, concrete and composite bridges. London, UK.
BSI, London, UK. DfT (2004) BD 29/04. Design Criteria for Footbridges. Her
DfT (Department for Transport) (2001a) BD 37/01. Loads for Majestys Stationery Office, London, UK.
Highway Bridges. Her Majestys Stationery Office, DfT (2008) The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB).
London, UK. Her Majestys Stationery Office, London, UK.


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