From a square inspired by CS Lewis to a living landmark in East Belfast, this diverse project offered a range of different challenges.
FARRANS has helped the people of Belfast take a step in the right direction following the completion of Phase 2 of the Connswater Community Greenway.
This new, inspirational living landmark in East Belfast has created a green corridor alongside the Connswater, Knock and Loop rivers to provide a network of open spaces and a continuous, uninterrupted pathway from the Castlereagh Hills to Belfast Lough. Residents and visitors alike have the option to walk, run or cycle the 9km greenway as well as enjoying new facilities such as new playgrounds, MUGA pitches and CS Lewis Square.
The depth of experience at FARRANS was put to the test, with the project incorporating seven new bridges and the refurbishment of a further five bridges. In addition to the new facilities, such as the playgrounds, pitches and CS Lewis Square, the company also constructed 5km of flood wall as part of the wider £11m East Belfast Flood Alleviation Scheme, implemented river migration works along the Connswater River, and planted over 1,000 trees.
Ciaran Donnelly, Project Manager for FARRANS, said that Connswater presented its fair share of unique challenges.
“Working on such a lengthy project, we were required to split the scheme into three main categories; Marine works, Roadworks, and Parklands,” he said. “These categories were then sub-divided into 18 sections, with each category managed by a section manager who oversaw a team of engineers, foremen, graduate engineers and students/apprentices.”
That planning was essential to foresee any issues.
“One of the biggest challenges of working in such a densely populated urban area is the narrow works corridors and restricted access routes,” added Ciaran. “To overcome this, we carefully planned all our working methods to be sympathetic to the surrounding area and to the people living and working close by.”
Ciaran added, “Working along the course of three very different rivers – the Connswater, Knock and Loop Rivers – was another unique challenge. As the Connswater River is predominantly tidal, we had to adapt our working hours in relatio
n to the tides, doing the majority of works within the narrow windows of time at low tide.
“We also altered our working hours in areas like the Sydenham Bypass, a major transport interface. Road works were undertaken at night to minimise disruption and works carried out on the railway line were carried out between 12am-6am to avoid disruption to NIR’s train timetables. We also created a complete redesign of our working methods to reduce the disruption to businesses in the Connswater Retail Complex.”
In addition to avoiding disruption to residents and businesses, the impact on the local environment was also kept in mind.
“Despite being in such an urban area, the works were still taking place within a marine environment and through green spaces. Therefore, we needed to make careful consideration of various sensitive environmental factors. For the river channel works, we liaised with the NIEA to establish base line sampling and set allowable water quality limits, which were strictly adhered to. We also had to consider other environmental issues such as bird nesting season.“
Ciaran put the project’s success down to good communication, great teamwork and a collaborative approach.
Working in partnership is an approach that the Belfast-based contractor has already embedded into company culture after becoming the first contractor in Northern Ireland to obtain BS11000 Collaborative Working accreditation earlier this year.
He concluded, “As in any project undertaken by FARRANS, a collective approach is key.
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