Bridge analysis, design + assessment

Case Study

MediaCityUK Footbridge

  • Asymmetric, cable-stayed, pedestrian swing bridge

  • Bridge form and function dictated by site constraints

  • Landmark structure for the MediaCityUK development

MediaCityUK is major development in Manchester, UK, that provides a new home for the UK's BBC and ITV broadcasting organisations. It includes general office and retail / leisure space, a hotel, residential apartments, and a new tram station that links to the city centre. MediaCityUK Footbridge is a key component of the development and spans the Manchester Ship Canal connecting the Trafford and Salford Quays regions of the city. Gifford (now part of Ramboll) used LUSAS Bridge analysis software to assist with its design of the footbridge. 


MediaCityUK Footbridge is an asymmetric, cable-stayed, pedestrian swing bridge whose form and function was dictated by site constraints. The bridge comprises two spans: a main span, approximately 65m in length, which traverses the shipping channel of the Canal, and a 18m flared concrete-filled back span that forms the counterweight to balance the asymmetric spans during opening. The main span of the deck is supported at 6m centres using high tensile spiral strand steel cables. A distinctive mast is formed from a fanned array of individual pylons up to 30m tall that converge at their base to sit on a steel pedestal. The deck is an internally stiffened, orthotropic steel box that pivots about the centre of the 9m diameter solid reinforced concrete shaft on the main pier. A large steel casting welded into the pivot zone of the steelwork deck is mounted on a slewing bearing which in turn is supported on a fabricated steel stool structure stressed down to the plant room floor in the main pier. This arrangement provides vertical support; resists the overturning moment generated about the horizontal axes and also provides horizontal restraint during bridge rotation. The main pier also incorporates a plant room housing the mechanical and electrical equipment necessary for operating the bridge. When closed the bridge provides a 4.77m high x 10m wide navigation envelope for small craft. In its fully open position a navigation channel with a clear width of 48m is provided.

Twinned ties link the tops of each mast for stability. Spherical bearings at the base of each mast allow for articulation The bridge provides a practical, yet visually stunning, gateway and landmark structure in the centre of the MediaCityUK development.

External publication

  • A paper describing how the MediaCityUK footbridge was designed was one of the UK's Institution of Civil Engineers most popular downloads in the past year. It can be downloaded here.

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