Published: 12:28, 03 October 2019
| Updated: 12:30, 03 October 2019
The final beam was lifted into place this morning for a new bridge linking residents of Ebbsfleet Garden City to one of Kent's major international stations.
Springhead Bridge will allow residents of the new garden city to walk to Ebbsfleet International station in eight minutes.
The 87 metre-long structure, which will run above the River Ebbsfleet from Springhead Park to Station Access Road, has been funded by the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation to the tune of £16m.
It is hoped a pedestrian footpath will reduce reliance on cars by allowing residents to walk across the bridge to the station rather than driving.
The bridge will also have capacity for vehicles across two lanes as well as a designated cycle path.
Construction of the bridge by contractors, Balfour Beatty started in May last year and is due to open to the public in Spring 2020.
Julia Gregory, director of projects with Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, has overseen the project from original blueprints to build for the last three years.
She praised the mullti-million pound project as a 'real feat of precision engineering' which will have a positive impact for those living and working in the area.
“Not only does this bridge cross a river but it is also next to the High Speed line so you can imagine the engineering precision and skill that went into every stage of planning," she said.
“When it is open, the bridge will provide an easy route on a dedicated walking lane for residents of Springhead Park who want to leave their car at home and get to Ebbsfleet International.
A crane said to be one of the largest in Europe helped carefully manoeuvre the sixth and final beam into place this morning
Engineers applied the final touches, working within only a few millimetres to ensure the steel beams fitted correctly.
The final sections of steel will now be put in place for the bridge as well as a concrete deck, road surfacing and utilities ahead of its grand unveiling to the public.
Designers of the bridge have been engaging with Kent Wildlife Trust to minimise disruption to the rare chalk stream the bridge is built over.
An ecologist has visited the site to oversee reed clearance and monitor the impact to local wildlife including Kingfishers, several mallards and coots.
The project was developed under the Scape National Civil Engineering Framework, which meant lots of local firms and sub-contractors were directly involved in the project.
In total, 80% of sub-contractors were sourced locally and more than 70% of spend was with local companies.
"One of the steel workers would even walk into work every day which was nice," Julia added.
The project manager also noted the high levels of engagement with the public and schools with nearly 2600 pupils engaged across 16 events held throughout the county.
Many of these were invited to take part in work experience placements and find out more about working in development or construction.
This is something Julia believes is really important if they are going to inspire the next generation.
She said: "There was a real mix of ages, gender and levels of experience involved with the project.
"Lots of people are not used to seeing a female on site, let alone leading the project, but Balfour Beatty and everyone involved have been brilliant.
"They can see what they are doing is part of a bigger picture and are doing something really special."
Nick Osborne, regional director of operations at Balfour Beatty, added: “The delivery of this exciting milestone is testament to the skills and expertise of our dedicated team and supply chain who are proud to be creating a positive legacy for the travelling public in Ebbsfleet.”
The Ebbsfleet Garden City development currently has 1,700 homes with approximately 4,000 new residents.
Developers were given the green light in June for almost 600 new homes with plans to extend this to 15,000 in the future.
More by this authorSean Delaney
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