Load cells to monitor hangers on Manchester’s newest rail bridge
Published On: March 21 2017
It may only be 300 metres long, but Britain’s latest stretch of rail track across the River Irwell in Manchester will make a massive difference to rail journeys in and out of the city. The £320m Ordsall Chord project will link Manchester’s Piccadilly and Victoria stations for the first time.
Apart from being the UK’s first network arch railway bridge, the new structure quite literally straddles the history of Manchester. Beneath the new bridge lies the river, the city ring road, the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal, the pedestrianised high street – and just downstream, the Grade 1 listed masonry railway bridge built by George Stephenson.
Swinging into action
Designed to link Manchester’s main railway stations together, and allow rail traffic to flow direct to Manchester Airport without need to go into the city centre first, the bridge was constructed and assembled onsite piecemeal. With so much infrastructure around the bridge site, placing the arches into position took a lot of planning. At one end, the largest crawler crane in the UK with a capacity of 1350 tonnes. At the other, a similar crane with a 750 tonne capacity. During the lift, over 580 tonnes of counterweight was added to the larger crane.
Beyond the lift
While load cells no doubt played an important part in monitoring the lifting process, they will be used extensively in the process of installing and stressing the 46 solid steel hangers on each side of the bridge.
“This is a complex, interdependent structure. Similar to a ‘cat’s cradle’, as you adjust the stress in one hanger, it affects the stress in all the other hangers.”
Stressing the hangers
Each hanger will be stressed from the centre, and this action will actually lift the bridge off its temporary supports. More stressing will follow once the reinforced concrete deck has been made. Load cells placed in each hanger will allow the construction team to monitor the stresses in real time. If a pair of hangers do fail, the bridge design allows them to be removed and replaced without restricting the loads allowed on the bridge.
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