Rob Gilbert, Senior Bridge Engineer
As an employee of Arcadis, Bridge Engineer to the Trust, I have been working on and around Rochester’s bridges for several years.
For the Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project I am primarily responsible for the delivery of the ornate lighting and fixtures contract, Esplanade heritage interpretation features contract, and several smaller tasks connected with the on-going maintenance of the bridges. I also led a task group to gain a series of consents for the project, from the Environment Agency, Marine Maritime Organisation, Strategic Harbour Authority, and Medway Council for Listed Building Consent.
When it comes to my work in general, bridges are my focus, but I’ve really enjoyed the breadth of experience I’ve gained working with the other disciplines for this project. This includes lighting and electrical engineers, landscape architects, and other specialist suppliers. Most of my career has been fairly technical but I also enjoy writing and photography (as followers of the Trust’s Facebook page will know) and this recent work has taken advantage of these interests.
The thing I’m most looking forward to for this project is completion of the lighting installation. It should make the Old Bridge especially iconic, and I’m pretty excited to see the restoration of some of the original 1914 lighting styles.
As some of the structure of the Old Bridge dates from the mid-1800s, it will be interesting to see if there are any discoveries during the project which may affect our designs. We have gone to a lot of effort to investigate existing historic drawings, plans and records, but I’ve learned to expect the unexpected on Rochester’s bridges. Figuring out how to balance heritage, safety, cost, and programme requirements with the unanticipated could be a fun challenge!
I’ve been a civil engineer for more than ten years and one of the things I’ve learned along the way is that consultation and clear communication are important to the success of any project. Working with so many different people and organisations on this refurbishment, I believe those skills continue to be particularly important.
Near the start of my career I was unfortunate enough to be made redundant, a couple of years into my first job. Being prepared to make the most of the limited opportunities that arose at this time, while not quite right for me, gave me the experience I needed for the position I now have. Simply put, a willingness to embrace opportunities was useful then – I’m sure it will be invaluable on this project.