The final piece of the steel cascade forming the distinctive ribbon-like shape of the Ordsall Chord has been lifted into position by Network Rail.
The first cascade, weighing 40 tonnes, was installed during the early hours of Sunday 6 August, while the second cascade was lifted into position on Monday 14 August, completing the last part of what Network Rail is billing as the UK’s first network arch bridge.
Construction will now continue on the remainder of the project. This will involve laying ballast and track on the 1,600-tonne bridge as well as further track work, signal work and installing overhead line equipment to allow electric trains to run.
The Ordsall Chord will create new links to Manchester Airport, provide more frequent trains and connect Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations.
It is part of Network Rail’s £1bn Great North Rail Project, due to be completed by December 2017.
Allan Parker, programme manager for Network Rail, said: “The installation of the cascades completes the final and unique steel ribbon-effect which runs along the outside of the network arch bridge. We’ve reached yet another major milestone in the project and I would like to thank all the teams who have played an integral role in making this happen. We are a step closer to providing the infrastructure for more frequent trains and better connections, not only within the city, but the north of England.”
Peter Jenkins, BDP’s transport architect director and designer of the bridge, said: “The overall concept for the bridges is that of a continual, flowing ribbon which incorporates individual structures into a single over-arching identity.
“This latest piece of steelwork connects the River Irwell and Trinity Way bridges with a twisting, sinuous form which smoothly brings the concept of the structure to fruition. The development has been a true team effort from the original sketch through to construction, integrating different people and different tools to achieve the vision.
“The process began with pen and paper concepts which were explored through structural analysis and developed into complex three-dimensional modelling. The bridge’s arches and cascades were then fabricated by Severfield in Bolton using the latest steelwork techniques before being delivered to site.”
Engineers advising include WSP, Aecom and Mott MacDonald.