National Highways continues work as M5 Avonmouth Bridge nears 50th anniversary

National Highways is welding the future of the M5 Avonmouth Bridge for generations to come as the iconic structure marks its 50th anniversary next week.

Over the past five decades a significant amount of unseen work has gone into maintaining the bridge and currently a programme of welding is being undertaken on the underside of the structure by the company responsible for England’s motorways and major A roads.

The original six-lane bridge was designed by Freeman Fox & Partners, and starting construction in 1969, principal contractors took five years to build and install the bridge over the River Avon near Bristol.

Completion was delayed by two years following construction issues with similar box girder structures in Melbourne, Koblenz and Milford Haven, and after further strengthening work, the bridge eventually opened for traffic on 24th May 1974.

Fifty years on, and the bridge – along with the nearby, year older Wynhol Viaduct – remains one of National Highways’ iconic structures and a gateway to the South West, carrying an average 125,000 vehicles per day.

Funding and maintenance of the arterial structure has been the responsibility of central government and National Highways and predecessors for all of its 50 years of service, latterly in partnership with Amey.

Large water crossings such as Avonmouth, the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge and M48 Severn Bridge require specific maintenance and inspection regimes, and all three structures are now looked after by National Highways’ dedicated Specialist Bridges Inspection and Maintenance (SBIM) team.

As part of a robust inspection and maintenance regime, National Highways teams have been carrying out extensive welding within the structure since October.

(Pic – National Highways)


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