Spencer Group innovation used on $730m bridge in Canada


A UK company will develop a unique solution to an access challenge on a major new bridge in Canada. 

Pattullo Bridge in British Columbia.
Pattullo Bridge in British Columbia. Credit: Spencer Group.

Hull bridge works specialist, Spencer Group, has been appointed by consortium Fraser Crossing Constructors to develop a bespoke access system to inspect the cables on the new $730 million Pattullo Bridge in British Columbia. 

The original bridge, opened in 1937, crosses the Fraser River near Vancouver, and links the cities of Surrey and New Westminster.  

However, the existing structure does not meet modern design standards and a new bridge is needed to maintain this critical link between the two communities. 

The new bridge is currently being constructed alongside the existing one. Works began in 2020.   

Delivery partners 

  • Acciona infrastructure Canada 
  • Aecon Group 
  • SNC-Lavalin 
  • Leonhardt, Andrä und Partner  
  • ILF Beratende Ingenieure 
  • Hatch  
  • EXP Services 


Spencer Group has been commissioned to design, manufacture, test and install a semi-permanent access system to enable maintenance engineers to inspect all elements of the bridge’s stay cables. 

The cradle element, which transports personnel to the desired inspection area, operates similarly to a cable car, moving along a track rope on the four-lane bridge. 

The cradle will be electrically hoisted along the main track rope and will also allow vertical movement up and down the stay cable wires throughout the lifespan of the new bridge. 

Principal engineer at Spencer Group, Gordon Neilson, is a leading industry expert in bridge gantry design, and is behind the design for the cable access system. 

The design stage of the access system project is now underway and is set for completion this summer.  

Manufacturing and testing will take place in the UK before the whole system is shipped to Canada for installation. 

Fraser Crossing will ensure the new bridge can interface with Spencer Group’s innovation, before it is tested and commissioned by the Hull firm. 

The existing bridge will remain in use until the new bridge is open in 2024.  

Once the replacement Pattullo Bridge is open, the old structure will be demolished. 

“We’re delighted to be able to draw on our industry-leading expertise to complete this project, supporting Fraser Crossing Constructors GP”, said Steven Bunting, project director at Spencer Group. 

“We’re also really pleased that our excellent track record of addressing unique challenges in the bridges sector and our engineering skills are being recognised and called upon internationally. 

Our unique design on this project will be transferable to other cable stay bridges all over the world. It addresses challenges faced with the need to carry out tactile inspections of cables from a dedicated work platform, at difficult to reach locations at significant elevations.” 

Enjoyed this? Try Historic geothermal energy project now online

Get industry news in 5 minutes!

A daily email that makes industry news enjoyable. It’s completely free.