Groundforce Bridge fly in their temporary bridges to provide an eco-friendly access solution for pylon construction in Ireland.

Groundforce Bridge has supplied a total of 26 temporary bridges to specialist contractors KN Group and Grid Network Services, to provide access for the refurbishment of the Bellacorick Castlebar 110kV Line in County Mayo for the Electricity Supply Board (ESB). The refurbishment of the line included the replacement of a number of the electricity pylons and foundations.

Due to the scenic and remote locations of the area reaching a lot of the sites by road was a major challenge, plus there were environmental considerations to take into account, so delivering the bridges required a rather unorthodox approach – by helicopter!

Fifteen bridges were supplied to KN Group and nine to Grid Network Services, to provide access for the contractor’s plant and equipment including cranes and concrete delivery. The bridges were used to span local rivers and watercourses. The range of bridges supplied included 5 m x 2 m Trench Crossing Units, 10 m x 3 m and 7.25 m x 3 m Vehicle Bridges, plus 10 m x 1 m new aluminium Pedestrian Bridges.

The line crossed over a number of ecologically sensitive areas with over 50% of the line route being within a European designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC), containing protected active bogs and local rivers home to the ‘Freshwater Pearl Mussel,’ which is a protected species. Full-time ecologists were on site to ensure these habitats were protected and not disturbed by any construction activities. All rivers and water crossings were required to have clear span bridges installed as part of the planning conditions.

Having worked with Groundforce previously, Paul Kelly from Grid Network Services contacted Groundforce Bridge to see what options they could offer. Terry Mead, general manager at Groundforce Bridge made four pre-installation visits to the sites to consider all the issues before presenting the best solution.

However, with delivery by road an impossibility for the new 10 m aluminium Pedestrian Bridges, which come as an assembled unit, a different delivery option was needed. Working together with Grid Network Services they decided the best solution was to fly them in by helicopter.

“Once we had decided on which bridges would be needed we had to then look at how we could deliver them to the sites,” said Terry Mead. “Without doubt, this was one of the most difficult and challenging projects that we have undertaken since forming the Groundforce bridging division four years ago. With restricted access to all sites, six of which needed the assistance of a helicopter to site the six new 10 m Pedestrian Bridges.”

Paul Kelly from Grid Network Services said: “We were very pleased with Groundforce Bridge it all went as planned and they did a great job.”

Tony Patton (project manager, KN Group) added: “Terry and his team delivered an excellent service on a particularly challenging project. The advice and guidance given at the planning phase and efficient installation of the bridges proved invaluable in delivering the project.”

Groundforce Bridge offers a range of temporary bridging solutions tailored to the requirements of the construction, transmission, rail and events industries. Its products comprise a range of modular flat-pack bridges ranging from pedestrian bridges up to their 12 m Mega Vehicle Bridge.