Spencer wins Menai Suspension Bridge refurb

The UK contract, worth nearly €1.8 million, is to repaint the entire main span underdeck of the 417m-long bridge, the second oldest operational vehicular suspension bridge in the world.
Maintenance / September 16, 2022 1 minute Read
By David Arminas
The Grade I listed structure crosses the Menai Strait between the Welsh island of Anglesey and mainland north Wales (image © Peewam/Dreamstime)

Spencer Group has secured contracts for further refurbishment works on the Menai Suspension Bridge in north Wales ahead of the structure’s 200th anniversary in 2026.

Spencer, a civil engineering and construction company specialising in bridge restoration, won the contract worth nearly €1.8 million to repaint the entire main span underdeck of the 417m-long bridge, the second oldest operational vehicular suspension bridge in the world.

The Grade I listed structure crosses the Menai Strait between the Welsh island of Anglesey and mainland north Wales and carries the A5 highway, London to Holyhead road.

Spencer was awarded the work, which includes strengthening of pedestrian walkway handrails, by UK Highways A55, a joint venture company of road maintenance firms John Laing and Carillion which is contracted to the Welsh government.

Spencer Group designed moving gantry platforms to enable its team to access the currently unreachable main span underdeck in order to shotblast, inspect and repaint the area.

Work will begin once designs are complete and environmental approvals have been granted, as the Menai Strait is protected as a UK Special Site of Scientific Interest and a wetland area of international importance under the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Completion is expected by the end of this year.

In 2005 one carriageway of the two-lane bridge was closed for six for its first major re-painting in 65 years.

Construction of the bridge – a Thomas Telford design - began in 1819 with the hollow towers on either side of the strait made from Penmon limestone and with internal cross-walls. Sixteen chain cables support the 176m span, each consisting of five parallel bars of wrought iron links, for a total of 80 iron bars and 935 links per cable.

In 1893 the wooden deck was replaced by steel and between 1938 and 1940 iron chains were replaced by steel ones.

A further project will see Spencer Group replace the majority of the vertical road deck hangers, which suspend the deck from the main chains of the bridge. Due to run throughout summer 2023, the project is in the early design stages as the Spencer Group team assesses various methods for hanger replacement and off-site manufacture of specialist components.

A fourth project will involve Spencer Group upgrading and improving the bridge’s street and decorative lighting, installing a more efficient and environmentally friendly LED system.

The latest contract wins come after Spencer Group successfully completed a project to remove, replace and then resurface the footway panels on the approach spans on both sides of the bridge, explained Luke Fisher, sector lead for bridges and structures at Spencer Group. Spencer is playing “a significant part in preparing the Menai Suspension Bridge for its 200th anniversary, supporting UK Highways A55 Ltd and their client, the Welsh government”, he said.

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