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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Historic M1 footbridge protected thanks to installation of world-first road barrier

One of the UK’s oldest motorway footbridges has been given a new lease of life thanks to the installation of the world’s first approved highest containment road barrier with the lowest working width.

The Smithy Wood Footbridge has carried people safely across the M1 near Ecclesfield, in Sheffield, since this stretch of motorway first opened in the 1960s.

Now around 60-years-old, the historic bridge needed increased protection in the event of a collision, but limited space at the roadside meant there were few options available.

Following the launch of Rebloc’s RB185A precast concrete barrier earlier this year, Hardstaff Barriers, Rebloc’s only UK supplier, had just the solution.

At 1.85 metres tall and 0.57 metres wide, it is the world’s first extensively tested and fully EN 1317-compliant precast concrete safety barrier with highest containment level H4a and a working width of W1. The system also has an unmatched vehicle intrusion rating of VI2.

Needing a footprint of just 0.8 metres, the system was perfect for installation on the M1, close to Junction 35, to protect the Smithy Wood bridge.

Sarah Compton, Rebloc Highways Account Manager (pictured with the RB185A), said: “We were really excited about this project, which saw the world’s first-ever installation of the Rebloc RB185A.

“This system will greatly improve the safety of this historic footbridge, as well as many more sites to come, where standard high containment barriers just cannot be installed.”

Working alongside Joe Roocroft and Sons, Hardstaff Barriers’ team of vehicle restraint system (VRS) experts installed around 200 metres of the barrier.

The system was installed on the north and southbound sections of the motorway and was connected to the existing VRS in place.

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