The Hulme Arch Bridge in Hulme, Manchester, England, supports Stretford Road as it passes over Princess Road. The construction of the bridge formed part of the regeneration of the Hulme district of Manchester by re-establishing the route of Stretford Road, which had been bisected by the construction of Princess Road in 1969, and by providing a local landmark.
Replacing a footbridge in the same location, the bridge consists of a deck supported by cables from a single arch that spans the bridge diagonally. The design was selected in June 1995, and the bridge was constructed between May 1996 and April 1997.
Stretford Road, a key east–west access route for local residents, had been bisected in 1962 by the construction of Princess Road. A footbridge was subsequently constructed, crossing Princess Road at the point where the road had been divided. As part of Hulme’s regeneration it was decided to construct a new bridge to rejoin the two sections of road, and provide a local landmark.
The design of the bridge was selected via a two-stage competition commissioned by Hulme Regeneration Ltd and Manchester City Council. The first stage was held in March 1995, and had six entries. The winning design, from Chris Wilkinson Architects, was selected in June 1995; the structural engineer was Ove Arup & Partners. The reference for the design of the bridge was Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
The bridge consists of a 50-metre (164 ft) deck of three 17 by 17 metre (56 by 56 ft) steel and concrete decking segments covered with tarmac. The deck is supported by twenty-two steel cables originating from both sides of a 25-metre (82 ft) high arch. The parabolic arch is made of six prefabricated trapezoid steel box sections, spanning the bridge diagonally. The arch varies between 1.6 metres (5.2 ft) wide by 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) deep at the bases to 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide and 0.7 metres (2.3 ft) deep at the top. It is supported by a pair of 8.5 by 6.5 by 5.5 metre (27.9 by 21.3 by 18 ft) concrete blocks, which bear most of the bridge’s weight. The deck is supported by piled abutments, which incorporate areas for bearing and expansion joint inspection and maintenance. The arch is kept in shape by a number of internal stiffeners and diaphragms, and the top section is filled with concrete. To minimise internal rust, the lower sections of the arch were coated with a vapour corrosion inhibitor, with portholes with removable covers inserted into the arch so that the inside can have additional coats applied in the future.
The three sections of decking were assembled on the broad central reservation of Princess Road, and were craned into position over a weekend when Princess Road was closed. The decking was temporarily supported by trestles until the arch was ready. The six sections of the arch were welded together on site into two halves before being lifted into position during a second weekend.
The bridge has been described by the structural engineers as “a perfect example of how imaginative design combined with leading-edge engineering technology can be used to create a landmark structure which captures the public’s imagination.”