The Pedesta bridge system is claimed to be the world’s first modular glass-fibre, reinforced polymer bridge. It is based on a concept by Arup and was launched today by Mabey at the Bridges 2017 conference in Coventry, UK, where a model was put on display.

Development of modular bridge has been part-funded by the UK’s Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB) and the system is expected to be of particular interest to the rail industry, providing a safer alternative to level crossings where traditional pedestrian bridges cannot be installed.

The first bridge has been installed for Network Rail at a Site of Special Scientific Interest in Oxford. The bridge modules were light enough to be transported by an articulated lorry and then assembled on site and lifted from a distance.

Pedesta is pre-engineered, modular, and fully customisable in its form, material, colour and finish. Identical modules, 1m in length, are fixed together with bolted shear connectors and then post-tensioned.

Pedesta - Arup and Mabey

The system allows spans of up to 30m, so it can be adapted to suit the application. In addition, being 70% lighter than steel, the modules only require a pallet truck or forklift to move. The material is said to provide additional resistance to fire, graffiti, vandalism, and ultra-violet radiation.

Arup associate Rebecca Stewart said: “We are focused on engineering solutions to make bridges more resilient and simpler to construct. This modular bridge is quick and easy to install, minimises disruption to the surrounding communities and significantly reduces ongoing maintenance costs. We can see this bridge being useful for a whole host of global applications – from rail footbridges to road and river spans. It is great to have partnered with Mabey and for them to have become our first licensed partner.”

Mabey Bridge CEO, Michael Treacy said: “There is always room for innovation in bridging, and we pride ourselves on pushing boundaries with new materials so we can safely build longer-lasting structures even faster. What we have developed from Arup’s concept will change the game for our customers who tell us cost and ease-of-use come first. This is a significant step in our ongoing mission to lead the future of modular bridging and we look forward to seeing the game-changing Pedesta make its UK debut.”

RSSB innovation programme director Neil Webster said: “Improving customer experience is a key challenge in the Rail Technical Strategy and the funding provided by RSSB for the development of this bridge has enabled the industry to come together to find this innovative solution.”

The development of the bridge was funded by Arup’s Ventures initiative, which provides support to employees developing products, exploring new business models and taking innovative solutions for the built environment to market.