River Irwell Bridge \

Connecting two cities

An iconic pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting the cities of Manchester and Salford with improved access to green infrastructure and active travel routes by an elegant hybrid structure and high quality addition to the public realm.

We were appointed by Salford City Council to develop a concept design for a pedestrian and cycle bridge, linking into a wider package of works that look to improve connectivity through Salford’s growing neighbourhoods. This package of works was put forward by the Council to the GM Mayor’s Walking and Cycling Challenge Fund. The new River Irwell Bridge provides a dedicated crossing for pedestrians and cyclists moving between Manchester and Salford, connecting onto the Irwell City Park as well as key transport nodes. The bridge is both a striking landmark and valuable piece of public realm that draws together residential, cultural and commercial spaces across the river, turning the two cities to face each other.

The challenge

With its increasing population and growing job market, Greater Manchester has seen a sharp increase in traffic congestion and associated poor air quality; as a response to this, the GMCA is aiming to improve walking and cycling infrastructure. Where pedestrian bridges recently constructed across the River Irwell have established a regular rhythm of crossings in the city centre area, the exception to this is the stretch of river between New Quay Street and Princes Bridges where the distance between crossings more than doubles. With the volume of new mixed-use and residential developments under construction, a pedestrian bridge in this location would be a valuable asset to existing and new residents and visitors to the area.

The big idea

Where the new River Irwell bridge lands on either bank, it will link into a network of quiet streets for walking and cycling, improving access to key transport nodes, green infrastructure, leisure opportunities and the developing neighbourhoods either side of the River Irwell as well as more directly connecting homes and workplaces.

The form of the bridge is expressive of its relationship to the river, forthcoming new communities and the line of convergence between the two cities it connects. The deck widens at the point of crossing between Salford and Manchester, creating a moment for pedestrians to step aside and take in their surroundings, while the asymmetrical truss frames views along the river and tilts away from the deck offering an open view to the sky.

The detail

The structure takes the form of a steel deck that cantilevers from a dominant spine truss spanning the river; steel plates welded to the deck and truss act as a stressed skin adding stiffness. This has led to a hybrid structural design that is elegant and unique, yet efficient and honest in its appearance and performance.

  • Project Details
  • Collaborating
  • Where are we now?

Project Summary

Project Team

Structural Engineers: Civic Engineers


Hawkins\Brown collaborated with Civic Engineers to develop the bridge, carrying the concept through from early sketches to a robust structural design and material application.

Where are we now?

The proposed bridge was submitted by Salford City Council as part of a wider application to the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund. It has been granted approval for funding to develop the design proposals to tender stage.

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