News

Water dilemma! Historic bridges reconstructed despite setbacks

16 March 2021

Snow, flooding, and live watercourses – those were just some of the challenges our Cogden Beck site team overcame as they reconstructed two bridges in Swaledale this winter!

After their collapse in 2019 due to flooding, Howard Civil Engineering were awarded a £0.9m contract from North Yorkshire County Council to reconstruct the two bridges at Cogden Beck in August 2020.

Emphasis was placed on our ability to react and mobilise quickly in order to meet the challenging deadlines, and Howard Civil Engineering commenced work on the remote countryside site the following week.

Contracts manager Tony Kilbane spoke about the challenges posed by this rural location: ‘Planning deliveries of material and heavy plant to an isolated location with limited access was very tricky. Given the area is also a Site of Specific Interest and the roads connecting our site to nearby villages are primarily B and C roads, which are frequently used by local farmers, consideration for local stakeholders, suppliers, and operatives was paramount.”

Though close together in location, each bridge required a very different method of reconstruction. The northern bridge was constructed using a box culvert and faced with stonework salvaged from the original collapsed bridge, and the southern bridge used a mixture of new and reclaimed stone elements to form the abutments and arched barrel, in addition to in situ concrete support works.

Working over a live watercourse is not foreign to Howard Civil Engineering (have a read of our Arla River Wall Repair project here), and our team expertly controlled the water level in order to pour the foundations beneath the riverbed with the use of large sub pumps. However, the irony was not lost on any of us when the site flooded several times during construction due to excessive rainfall!

“When in flood, Cogden Beck is extremely powerful and on occasion we would have to wait until the water subsided in order to continue work safely,” Tony explained. “The flooding resulted in additional works such as pumping out and removing debris, boulders and riverbed cobbles, which put significant strain on the programme schedule.”

Running water wasn’t the only thing that put a spanner in the works at Cogden Beck – severe snowfall also forced works come to a grinding halt earlier this year.

“The main challenge for us was the adverse weather we experienced in the first week of January,” said project manager Patrick Furlong. “The site was situated 300m above sea level and in a very remote area of the countryside. Getting our operatives to site safely and continuing work in such cold and dangerous conditions was simply unachievable, and it made laying the stone walls with cement nigh on impossible.”

Despite these consequential setbacks, Howard Civil Engineering were able to complete works and restore the surround areas to their natural state only four weeks later than scheduled.

“We are very happy to re-open these bridges to the local community and I personally am immensely proud of the good work achieved by our Cogden Beck site team,” said Tony. “Their determination and ability to deliver a quality product for our client whilst navigating and overcoming the various challenges posed by the remote location and adverse weather on site is certainly something to be commended.”

See the finished result!

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