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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Bridge upcycling in west Dorset

In June 2020, Dorset Highways replaced St Mary’s Footbridge in Bridport but salvaged its timber beams for use in two footbridges in Charminster.

Work started in May 2021 to replace the Higher Charminster footbridge, with the highway structures team on site removing the old bridge and building new, wider abutments for its replacement.

Access was kept open along the popular route by installing a scaffolding bridge over the river.

Work starts on salvaged beams

Meanwhile, J Bennett Joinery was cutting down the beams to remove rotted timber and salvage the good wood for reuse. This was then resized for beams for two smaller footbridges – as well as being sanded, shaped and oiled.

The beams were also engineered with precision to ensure steelwork, new posts and deck fit perfectly when assembled.

Steelwork for the deck cross-beams were engineered by KTM Fabrication and delivered to the joiners – for the bridge to take shape, with composite decking boards fitted as the final piece.

David Clegg, Dorset Highways Service Manager for Network Operations, said: “We knew we could salvage wood from St Mary’s and we carefully considered appropriate settings where residents would benefit from the aesthetics of their repurposing.

The process of the beams being prepared for reuse

“Reusing the hard-wood beams has reduced our carbon footprint by needing less new, raw materials to make the new bridge, it’s also saved money due to the cost of new hard-wood and the disposal cost of old, waste material.

“This project also demonstrates the great working partnership we have with local experienced and highly skilled professionals here in Dorset, helping us explore options to reuse and recycle across our projects within highways.”

The stages of the bridge being put together

The new bridge was lifted into place on 7July and opened a week later, after ramps up to the bridge were completed. With due care and maintenance, the new bridge could last up to 20 years.

Work has now started downstream on Alley Footbridge in the village, which will also be reusing the old beams from St Mary’s Footbridge.

The new Charminster Footbridge in place

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