Springhead Bridge - connecting a community
Summer 2020 saw the opening of Springhead Bridge at the new Ebbsfleet Garden City, connecting the Springhead Park community to Ebbsfleet International Station.
Built for Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, which was set up by Government to speed up the delivery of up to 15,000 new homes, this bridge is pivotal for housing and connectivity of the new city.
The area now has more than 2,000 homes with approximately 5,000 new residents, who can now benefit from safe, easy and much healthier access to the station.
“This bridge will provide an easy route on a dedicated walking lane for residents of Springhead Park who want to leave their car at home and get to Ebbsfleet International and the future Ebbsfleet Central Area.“It will also provide a cycle track and access for all vehicles including a new Fastrack bus route. We’re delighted the bridge has been so well received by residents.”
Director of Projects with Ebbsfleet Development Corporation
The project was procured through the Scape Civil Engineering framework and delivered by Balfour Beatty. From the very start, three considerations were embedded into the project: environment, social value and collaboration.
The Ebbsfleet river has an abundance of wildlife, including mallards, coots and butterflies, so taking care of the environment was hugely important.
To prevent damage to the riverside ecosystem, an ecologist was employed at the site, with work being programmed to avoid impact on the bird nesting season. Vegetated embankments and gabion baskets were used to blend the new structure into the surroundings and a special barrier was installed to prevent reptiles and amphibians from entering the site before building work began.
Solar tower lights were also installed around the site, reducing carbon emissions by around 170 tonnes.
Another key consideration when planning the project was how the bridge could benefit the local community, before it was even built.
By working closely with schools, colleges and universities in the area, almost 2,500 students were engaged with the project from the start, with site visits, talks and other events taking place. The project also provided 26 work experience placements.
Over £6,000 in materials or donations was generated, with topsoil and materials donated to a local school for their gardening project and to two local charities: No Walls Gardens and the Swanscombe Edible Garden project.
The Social Value Portal reported that the project has generated more than £5,445,000 in social value so far.
Collaboration was so important to the successful delivery of the project. From the outset, route orientation, ecological and archaeological considerations required open and regular conversation with multiple approving authorities and stakeholders. Early engagement with all parties meant the environmental impact and disruption to residents was kept to a minimum.
That collaboration between Balfour Beatty, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and the local community was facilitated by the Scape Civil Engineering framework and entirely embedded into the delivery process. Using the framework allowed for early contractor engagement and access to the right civil engineering experts, further minimising risk throughout the project.
“Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and Balfour Beatty have forged a collaborative relationship to deliver a project that works so well. We’re proud to have helped accelerate, performance manage and deliver a lasting legacy for the people in the local area.”
Chief Executive, Scape Group
A bridge to a brighter future
The new bridge means that the residents of Springhead Park now have a much quicker journey to the station and the future city centre. Reducing the need for car journeys with dedicated walking and cycle lanes has also meant less expense for the local community, by reducing the need to pay for parking fees or fuel costs. Plus, the dedicated bus lane makes public transport a faster option than ever before.
“Thanks to the bridge, I’ll be getting home a lot quicker and saving on the cost as I have had to use the bus until now...I’ve been waiting for the bridge to open and this really is going to change my life.”
The local ecosystems continue to thrive with a diversity of wildlife on site. Birds have been successfully breeding throughout the nesting season, with a family of moorhens in permanent residence around the bridge. The reptile fencing installed at the very start of the projects has protected local populations of newts, frogs and toads.
The project was awarded a Bronze Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice in 2019 and was named as Civils Project of the year 2020 in the Constructing Excellence SECBE awards.
As the first significant piece of infrastructure for the new Garden City, the success of Springhead Bridge will heavily influence future projects and the plans to complete this brand new, 21st century Garden City.
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