Two 300t mobile cranes from rental company Ainscough Crane Hire conducted a tandem lift during an emergency operation to remove the fallen section of the bridge (another section remained in situ and has subsequently been taken away). It sourced rigging equipment, including a 100t capacity spreader beam in addition to shackles and a variety of slings rigged to take 80t of load, from RSS.
Highways England responded to the incident—the concrete bridge fell onto two lorries on the London-bound carriageway at around midday on Saturday 27 August—by announcing that the stretch of the M20 between junctions two and four would remain closed until at least noon the following day, with crews working through the night to clean up the scene.
Steve Hutin, managing director, RSS, said: "We received a phone call at 4pm on Saturday and mobilised the team an hour later. We were told to meet a schedule set around road closures so all equipment had to be supplied by 5am the following morning; we completed delivery at 4: 30am."
RSS, which has five locations strategically positioned throughout the country, oversaw provision of the rigging equipment from its Aylesbury, Kent facility. Tim Panter, southern regional manager and Graham Dawson, Aylesbury depot manager assembled and delivered the rigging equipment before standing by should their expertise be required during the single lift.
Ainscough was pressurised to secure the swift and safe removal of the fallen footbridge section, as Highways England were keen to reopen the M20, the main route to and from the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover, as quickly as possible. Successful completion was reliant upon the timely supply of quality rigging gear and below-the-hook expertise.
Hutin said: "When I saw the headlines that the footbridge had been hit by a lorry carrying a digger, I immediately thought of the scale of the project that would follow to get the road back in use. I didn't make any assumptions that we would be involved in that undertaking but we have a proven track record of working with Ainscough and they know they can trust us to deliver in a pressure-cooker environment, which this was."
Upon completion of the lift the rigging equipment was returned to RSS in Aylesbury where thorough examination took place in line with Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).
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