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Rochester Bridge
 

Description of Works
In partnership with the Rochester Bridge Trust, FM Conway has been working to take care of Rochester’s historic bridges. The final bridge to cross the River Medway before it empties into the North Sea, Rochester Bridge has provided vital infrastructure links towards the capital from as early as 43 AD.
 

However, despite being commonly referred to as a single bridge, the Rochester crossing is in fact made up of four different structures – the Old Bridge, the New Bridge, the Service Bridge and the Railway Bridge. Valued at £300,000 per annum, FM Conway’s structures division has been delivering an integrated asset management programme – including surfacing, lighting, structural engineering and cleansing works – to ensure the bridges provide a seamless travel experience for motorists.


Challenges and Solutions

With parts of the Old Bridge dating back to 1856, ongoing planned maintenance forms a major part of FM Conway’s day-to-dayworks.  However, it’s not all routine – in June 2018 FM Conway supported the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME) to carry out a mock demolition exercise.

Peter Moore, Contracts Manager at FM Conway, explains:
“The RSME occasionally use Rochester’s Old Bridge as a location for training exercises, simulating a controlled demolition at a strategic crossing in a war zone."

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Though these are training exercises, rigorous planning and coordination ahead of the event was still vital to ensure the safety of both military personnel and the public.

Peter Moore - Contracts Manager at FM Conway

“To reduce the impact on motorists, the RSME exercise was scheduled to coincide with essential, planned works to the bridge. The traffic management team closed a single lane, allowing the RSME to safely perform the explosives training away from passing traffic while accommodating our workers as they performed crucial structural checks.  By working in tandem with the RSME, we were able to minimise overall disruption to motorists.”
 

Outcomes

Although FM Conway has worked on Rochester’s bridges over the past four years, the team continues to uncover hints to Rochester’s long and colourful history. 

Peter continues:
“During ground excavation works on the Rochester Esplanade, the team unearthed a hidden shaft tunnelling under the soil.

“Rochester Castle, which dates back to the 1080s, overlooks the river and old pathways and roads used in the medieval or Victorian period are sometimes exposed during maintenance work.  The shaft wasn’t marked on any of the area’s maps so working alongside an archaeologist and Arcadis – who provide support for major structural works – we further excavated the shaft to uncover a Victorian arch and a short flight of stairs.  To speed up the investigation of the site, Historic England ran a full scan of the area so a 3D digital reconstruction of the chamber could be developed off-site.  This allowed our teams to reinstate the footway, minimising disruption to the public.”

“Now, the passageway has been recorded for future works ensuring Rochester’s past will be protected and preserved for centuries to come.”