Maidstone bridges

One of the most remarkable clusters of bridges is to be found at Maidstone over the River Medway. As part of the Medway Riverside Park project - the largest Millennium project in Kent, three fine new bridges have been installed - the Lockmeadow Bridge, the Kent Messenger (KM) Bridge and the "Downstream" Bridge.

The Lockmeadow Bridge is nearest to the town centre and the busiest as it serves the shopping complex on the west bank. It is the most striking of the three, a cable-stay bridge supported by twin inclined masts rising from a "cutwater" on the west bank. 

But it is such a pity that it was designed with inadequate width to cater for the cyclists who wish to use it in addition to the large number of pedestrians. Indeed, the "No cycling" order has been cast in perpetuity in a metal plaque set into the bridge deck!

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When approached from the town centre, the KM bridge (sometimes known as the Whatman's Field bridge) does not seem to have much to it. But it is in fact, of award winning design, being the first post-tensioned stressed ribbon bridge in the United Kingdom. To really appreciate the engineering ingenuity involved, you need to get underneath the bridge on the west bank to admire the way in which the lightweight deck (only 290 mm deep) is supported on an slender inclined pier. 

 

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The "Downstream" bridge, linking Whatman's Park to Monckton's Lane likewise looks best from below.

 

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