Today in Transportation History – 2009: The Cathedral Green Footbridge Opens to Ped/Bike Traffic

A pedestrian and cycle bridge in the British city and unitary authority area of Derby was first opened to the public. This opening of the Cathedral Green Footbridge, which spans the River Derwent, took place 13 days before the official dedication ceremony for the new structure.

The footbridge was built in a section of Derby that was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The bridge forms the third side to a triangle between the Derby Cathedral, which dates back to the 16th century; and Derby Silk Mill, a one-time factory that is now a museum focused on the region’s industrial history.

Construction on the footbridge began in August 2007. At that time, urban designer Nick Corbett of the community improvement organization Derby Cityscape highlighted the potential aesthetic value of the new structure. “The footbridge will be a work of art in its own right, constructed with traditional materials,” he said during a BBC News interview.

Built in a flood zone of the River Derwent, the bridge has a swing mechanism that can be opened whenever the river begins to overflow. This prevents the higher-than-average levels of water from damming up and creating even worse flooding problems locally. As developed by David Price of the design firm M G Bennett & Associates, the swing mechanism operates on a pintle bearing that is always in “uplift” position; when the swing mechanism is activated in times of flooding, a large central wheel serves as a counterbalance and supports the entire weight of the bridge.

Other distinctive features of the Cathedral Green Footbridge include its scissor-like appearance and needle-shaped mast, both of which reflect the industrial heritage of the nearby Derby Silk Mill. About seven months after cyclists and pedestrians were first allowed to use the bridge, it was a finalist in the ninth Prime Minister’s Award for better public structures.

For more information on the Cathedral Green Footbridge, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_Green_Footbridge.

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