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International award for innovative GRP footbridge

An advanced pedestrian footbridge spanning the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed rail link has won international acclaim in the form of “Footbridge Award 2005”. Situated close to the Spanish city of Lleida and formally opened in 2004, the bridge is made of high-tech glassfibre-reinforced plastic (GRP).

The bridge was designed by the Spanish engineering consultants Pedelta and built using structural components supplied by Fiberline Composites A/S, Denmark.

The award, in the category “Technology” for medium span (30m-75m) bridges, was presented by an international panel of judges. Speaking on behalf of the panel of experts, Helena Russell, editor of the journal Bridge Design & Engineering, described the bridge as ”a world first, opening up a complete new field of structural design possibilities. The bridge makes excellent use of new technology to solve a number of specific problems. It combines the advantages of minimum maintenance and light weight, making it easy to transport and to erect.”

As the bridge would cross a major rail link, minimising disruption to services was a key priority for the Spanish railway authorities. Accordingly, the bridge was assembled at the line side and then craned into place, resulting in a railway possession time of only three hours for the complete erection,” says Dr. Juan Sobrino, Pedelta.

GRP does not conduct electricity, which is also very important as it means there is no magnetic interference with the electrified railway,” continues Mr. Sobrino.

Complex geometry
The 3m-wide bridge boasts a 38m span, one of the longest in Europe for a GRP footbridge. A major challenge in the project was the construction of the two arches, which each lean approximately 10 degrees inward. The bridge therefore has no simple perpendicular components but is composed of short straight sections. The final result is a triumph both technologically and in design terms.

Pedelta chose Denmark’s Fiberline Composites A/S, which specialises in GRP profiles, to develop and fabricate the structural components. The 9m long components were shipped to Spain for on-site assembly and erection.


Advantages:

  • Electrical insulation
  • Easy handling and quick installation
  • Weather and corrosion resistance
  • Low weight combined with great strength
  • Minimal maintenance