First look at Preston's proposed £7m tram bridge

By Tim Aldred

08 Mar 2024

Preston Tram Bridge

New CGI visuals have been released of the proposed tram bridge which will cross the River Ribble and connect Preston city centre with South Ribble.

The bridge is expected to cost £6.6m and will be delivered by Preston City Council through its £20m Levelling Up funding allocation, together with funding from Lancashire County Council.

Lancashire County Council is project managing and supporting the project working with Eric Wright Civil Engineering on design and construction..

The detailed design work for the look and structure of the bridge is in the final stages of development including the modelling of the bridge over the river flow and surrounding landscape.

The current design has been selected following various other considerations which were rejected by the project technical team due to the specific requirements and challenges of the site.

The design of the bridge supports sustainability factors as well as minimising any environmental impacts of the new structure. The bridge will be of a high quality that meets local needs and takes account of its setting.

The constraints are mainly set by the practical and logistical aspects of building the bridge in an inaccessible location, away from any roads, as well as constructing it in a narrow time window for ecology reasons and to meet the need to clear flood levels.  

The team is also working with a range of specialist consultants including Preston based architects Studio John Bridge, Jacobs Ltd, Bowland Ecology, Smith and Love Consultants, Harris Engineering and DYCE Structural Engineers to ensure the work moves quickly to meet the scheme deadlines.

Engagement with Friends of the Old Tram Bridge, a community group set up to support reinstatement of the bridge, is an important aspect of the project.

The team is also consulting with the Environment Agency, Marine Management Organisation and project ecologists, to ensure that the environmental impacts of the new bridge are considered fully throughout the construction, and the lifetime of the bridge – projected to be 120 years.

Coun Valerie Wise, cabinet member for community wealth building and city centre regeneration and development, said: “It has been important to work with a local architect who understands the local context and we aim to provide an opportunity for the community to be kept informed of the proposals. It’s important that we get it right and make sure it’s a bridge that stands the test of time, as well as looking good in its surroundings.”

County councillor Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth, added: "The tram bridge is a key feature of this part of the River Ribble and the new bridge will restore an important active travel route between South Ribble and Preston city centre for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

"Providing good sustainable transport links and places where people can stay healthy by enjoying the outdoors is a key aspect of our levelling up ambitions, and I'm very pleased to be investing in this project which will benefit people in this area for generations to come."

John Bridge from Studio John Bridge Architects said: “It is great to be part of the next chapter in the history of the Tram Road Bridge. Since its closure it has been a huge talking point and as a Prestonian I am so pleased the council has secured through LUF funding.

"Since assisting the councils and constructor, it is very impressive to see all the work that has been carried out behind the scenes by all parties, from ecology to logistics and legal departments. I hope with the support of the public and all involved, we’ll deliver this important transport link from the City Parks to South Ribble.”

Gavin Hulme, operations director, Eric Wright Civil Engineering, said: “We are proud to be working in collaboration with Preston and Lancashire to deliver this landmark bridge project. We have worked on numerous complex river bridges in recent years and it is a privilege to be working on one so close to our head office and to contribute towards the long-standing infrastructure of Lancashire.”

Genn Cookson of Friends of the Old Tram Bridge said: “The bridge started as a wooden structure over 200 years ago – it’s part of the bridge’s history to evolve and be rebuilt and I think it is exciting that we will witness its new lease of life. Ultimately though, the utility of the bridge is so important. We have been without a bridge for nearly five years and now we need this important pedestrian, cycling and bridleway link back." 

Works to prune or remove trees around the bridge approaches is about to start improving access to the bridge in advance of the main works.

Subject to approval, the main bridge works are programmed to start later in the summer. 

The new bridge will be delivered by Spring 2025.

Enjoyed this? Read more from Tim Aldred

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