Rock Park bridge reopens after major refurbishment

Posted on: 5 January 2017

The former railway bridge in Barnstaple’s Rock Park will be 130 years old this year, and no better celebration for it to be fully refurbished and still used by so many.

The bridge, now maintained by Devon County Council, was built in 1887, and after the railway closed it became a cycle/footpath in 1986.

The bridge is an important link within Barnstaple, allowing pedestrian access to the local houses, school and the Seven Brethren industrial estate, and its use is expected to increase with new housing developments planned in Barnstaple.

Work began early 2016 to refurbish the bridge, which required re-painting, replacing rotten timber, as well as re-pointing and re-building of the abutments and wing walls. The works required surface preparation and painting to the superstructure and the piers.

The bridge ecapsulated with plastic sheeting

The bridge ecapsulated with plastic sheeting

Scaffolding was erected and encapsulated with plastic sheeting so that pedestrian access could be maintained throughout the work, but results from the regular air monitoring led to a forced closure of the bridge to the public, for safety reasons.

The prepared metal work

The prepared metal work

The decision was taken by the council to prepare the structure’s surface by grit blasting, and contractors used a very exact measurement of epoxy paint to a precise thickness measured in microns, coated with an acrylic top layer to give the bridge a better aesthetical finish. Epoxy paint otherwise will discolour if left exposed to sunlight.

One of the significant health and safety issues facing the contractor was the very high level of lead in the existing paintwork. The results from tests on the existing paint gave a 30 per cent lead content.

Extraction and dust-filtration unit

Extraction and dust-filtration unit

Contractors had to control their working environment wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, using an onsite decontamination unit, air monitoring and filter extraction units to keep the air inside the encapsulation area as clean as possible.

Workers also had their blood tested regularly to ensure that the safety measures were working as intended.

The view now across the bridge

The view now across the bridge

Although the project over ran, the quality of the work produced is exceptionally high, says the Council, and should protect the bridge from corrosion for many years to come.

Posted in: Community | Environment