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Olympic Park sees Keltbray's largest ever lift as Games bridge demolished

As part of the transformation of the Olympic Park, Keltbray demolished the 500-tonne Stratford City Bridge, which is the single largest lifting operating the company has undertaken.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park looks very different in March 2013 compared with the summer months of 2012; the temporary venues are being dismantled and the whole park is undergoing a transformation into the legacy stage of the project.

As part of this process, demolition specialist Keltbray has demolished and removed the 500-tonne Stratford City Bridge, which provided primary access for pedestrians into the park from the Westfield Shopping Centre.

Rising to the canal-crossing challenge

The bridge, which was more than 70 m long and 30 m wide, was made up of five main steel girder trusses each weighing more than 75 tonnes spanning 55 m over the waterways canal, which is longer than the Aquatic Centre’s pool. It was designed by Tony Gee & Partners and constructed by Balfour Beatty.

“The lifting process was the most technically interesting aspect of this project,” says Keltbray project manager Gavin Lawless. “Lifting 80-tonne beams is one thing but to lift one safely over a 50 m-wide canal is another matter. Even simple tasks such as slinging become a major issue.”

“Lifting 80-tonne beams is one thing but to lift one safely over a 50 m-wide canal is another matter”

Gavin Lawless, Keltbray

This project is the largest single lifting operation Keltbray has undertaken and the company’s lifting manager Steve Leyton was heavily involved throughout the process.

“With Steve’s help we came up with a process that had numerous safety contingencies but that also worked well onsite, where it really matters,” Mr Lawless says.

The team used a Liebherr LG 1550 1000-tonne mobile crane to lift the main girders. “It was the first time a project of this size was not subcontracted out under CPA contract lift agreement,” Mr Layton says.

“We hope with this new in-house expertise we can reduce our craneage costs and become more competitive in securing future works of this kind.”

High-profile site and logistical challenges

Despite the fact the Olympics finished last summer, the park is still an extremely prominent site and health and safety concerns are as important as ever.

“Working in such a high-profile area the project had a number of complex issues to contend with at planning stage, including stringent safety and environmental controls working adjacent to the waterways, logistical constraints in the park and numerous lifting and plant operations occurring simultaneously on site,” Mr Layton says.

“Logistically, work on the QEOP is a challenge in itself: getting last-minute deliveries aren’t an option so forward planning is essential.”

The location of the site also added to Keltbray’s challenges during the work. “Working above or near water on a site that is wide open to the elements was a constant challenge, but the numerous safety precautions we had in place worked well on site,” Mr Lawless says.

“There were a number of days during the short programme that were abandoned due to weather, but we worked hard to get the job completed ahead of the programme.”

Dismantling and recycling in sections

Environmental concerns were central to the construction of the Olympics and the deconstruction is no different. The team considered a number of different options for the bridge before deciding to dismantle and recycle is in sections.

“We originally looked at the possibility of removing the bridge for reuse elsewhere as a complete unit, but were unable to find a suitable location,” Mr Lawless recalls.

“So the timber decking has been removed 90 per cent intact with most of it donated for use in a sustainable eco-garden at the Cre8 Lifestyle Centre in Hackney Wick to benefit the local community.

“The remaining materials, including concrete and steel, are being crushed and recycled for use in other projects.”

Keltbray has been working with Balfour Beatty, which is responsible for the Aquatics Centre legacy works, throughout the demolition process.

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