Engineering Design Consultants

Dutch River Swing Bridge

The mechanical design of the Dutch River Swing Bridge Project was carried out by M G Bennett and Associates Ltd in 2005. Whilst employed by Bennetts, James Hill was responsible for the detailed design of the mechanical elements, specification of the hydraulic and electrical control systems, and writing and commissioning of the PLC control software for the bridge.

Having been refurbished on a number of occasions, the Victorian bridge over the Dutch River in Goole was nearing the end of its life. The design of the old bridge had a number of limitations, in particular the narrow single carriageway which was traffic light controlled. During peak hours, this caused significant congestion. Footpaths on the bridge were extremely narrow and the lack of a dedicated cycle lane caused serious safety concerns for both pedestrians and cyclists.

At 45 metres long and 14 metres wide, the replacement swing bridge was one of the largest swing bridges to built in the UK in recent years. The new bridge would have two carriageways and dedicated cycle and pedestrian ways, making it safer as well as reducing overall congestion.

The new design needed to include improved and more reliable mechanical equipment which operated the bridge. A number of levels of redundancy were used, meaning that if there was a failure, the bridge would still be able to be operated safely.

The busy A161 road needed to remain open whilst the new bridge was constructed alongside it. To achieve this, consideration had to be given to the size of some items of plant equipment and carefully plan the timing of their installation.

Due to the required low road levels and flood heights, there was limited room in which to fit the mechanical and electrical (M&E) equipment. Flooding can occur where the M&E equipment was to be installed and this had to be considered in the design of the bearings, as well as the environmental implications of any oils used or potential leakages.

A particular innovation on this project was the use of composite bearing material for the main bearing elements. The use of this material offered a number of benefits over more traditional materials. The unique bearing material is water lubricated, which effectively removes the need for greasing of the bearing elements. The composite material also meant that the bearing elements would be more cost effective to manufacture and would offer improved reliability.

The bearing element was much lighter in weight compared to an equivalent metal bearing, therefore making it easier to replace. By also machining the bearing elements from this material, this would ensure that they were easy to source in the future, unlike rolling element bearings of an equivalent size. All the bearings have been designed to be replaceable without the need for special tooling and acheivable in the very limited space available. Replacement can also be carried out without closing the bridge to road traffic.

Birse Civils were the main contractor for the project with Cass Hayward as the structural engineers. Bennett Associates provided mechanical and electrical design work and Butterley Ltd fabricated and installed the bridge.

The Dutch River Swing Bridge won the Yorkshire and Humber Region Institute of Civil Engineers award in 2007.

For more information regarding our moving bridge design services or to discuss your swing bridge requirements, please telephone 0114 399 0400 or email us.

Key Facts
  • Location:
    Dutch River, Goole
  • Client:
    Birse Civils