A major milestone has been reached in the construction of the Bath Quays Bridge, the first new crossing point to be installed across the River Avon in Bath for a century.
The final pile for the bridge substructure has been completed, paving the way for installation of the bridge itself later this year.
Once completed the 60m long steel bridge will link Bath Quays North and South, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s flagship regeneration project, providing a new route for pedestrians and cyclists and greater connectivity around the city.
The Bath Quays development is part-funded by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund and administered by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “It’s great to see such progress being made on this significant development, which will help support our region’s recovery from the economic impacts of Covid-19. This new bridge, funded through the Local Growth Fund, will support my ambition to see more people cycling and walking in the West of England.
“The installation will be a welcome addition to the Bath Quays development and will connect up more business space for commuters when the bridge opens next year.”
Prof Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s brilliant that the Local Growth Fund is helping us to take a further step forward with this latest stage in the development of the Bath Quays site.
“The new bridge is another piece of the plan to bring communities closer together in the future.”
501 piles have been installed to date by BAM Construction and their piling specialists Ivor King, Roger Bullivant and Westpile, as part of the Bath Quays scheme forming flood defences, office foundations and bridge substructures. Laid end to end some 6.5km of piles have been installed, equivalent to 580 double decker buses parked in a line. The longest pile installed was 17m deep, and the largest diameter was 750mm.
Councillor Tim Ball, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, said: “Installing all the piles needed for the construction of Bath Quays has been a major undertaking and has at times proved challenging. We’ve worked hard to minimise the impact on residents and businesses by reducing noise and vibrations, including using cutting edge silent piling methods.
“Now all the piling work for the bridge has been completed we are just a matter of months away from lifting the new bridge structure into place which is an integral part of the Bath Quays development and will be a significant new landmark in the city.”
Paris based engineering and architectural consultancy Marc Mimram designed the bridge after winning an international design competition commissioned by the council in 2015 and securing the largest number of votes in a public poll. The detailed design and engineering checks required for the complex structure involved a number of engineers across the region.
The structure was built in Belgium by steelwork fabricator Victor Buyck. A number of UK-based contractors took part in the procurement process, but Buyck was appointed in January 2019 because the company presented the best expertise, resources and capacity to make the complex structure to a high quality, therefore offering the best value to the council. The bridge was shipped to the UK in four sections in May for further pre-assembly works to be undertaken Once the foundations are completed, the bridge will be lifted into place by a 600-tonne crane later this year.
Next month residents will be invited to put forward their suggestions for a name for the bridge. A panel of nine community representatives will compile a shortlist with the best two submissions being put to a public vote. The winning name will be announced by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, construction work on No1 Bath Quays, the first newly built office building in Bath for over 25 years, is well underway with windows and stone facades currently being installed. Once completed it will provide 45,000 sq ft of exceptional Grade A office accommodation over five open plan floors with basement parking, cycle storage, showers and lockers. No1 Bath Quays is now being actively marketed with a number of prospective tenants showing interest, demonstrating the continued demand for premium office space in the city even in challenging times.
The council is currently considering feedback from residents on the detailed design of Bath Quays North before submitting a detailed planning application. The development will include office space, new homes, a hotel and retail and restaurant units, alongside public areas and a 413 space car park. All the buildings have been designed to reduce their environmental impact, adapt to climate change and incorporate features that enhance the health and wellbeing of occupiers and the wider community. The design includes roof terraces, living walls and an urban arboretum together with walkways, cycle routes and cycle parking to encourage people to choose more active and sustainable ways to travel.
Councillor Dine Romero, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “As we work to recover from the impact of COVID-19 the Bath Quays development will not only provide much needed homes in the heart of the city but will prove crucial in boosting business, skills and job opportunities in Bath and the wider region.”