The main construction work on National Highways’ £23 million project to provide a new road bridge over the M56 in Cheshire is now underway by lead constructor, AmeySRM.
National Highways is replacing the A533 Expressway bridge near Runcorn with a brand-new crossing just a few metres further up the motorway. After preparations which started in November, road workers moved onto the site straight after the Christmas holiday period last week to start building a site compound and install safety barriers along the M56.
The bridge, between junction 11 and junction 12, provides a vital connection for people living or working on both sides of the motorway so it cannot be demolished until the new one has opened. Over the next few weeks bridge and motorway users will see activities ramping up significantly.
Kennedy Muzira, National Highways’ senior programme leader for the North West, said: “We’re delighted this important project to replace the A533 Expressway bridge is now underway. This is a complicated and exciting engineering challenge for us but minimising inconvenience to the thousands of people who rely on the bridge and the M56 for their journeys every day will be at the forefront of all our minds over the next year or so.”
The existing bridge was built in 1971 and is being replaced with a new 67m two-span concrete bridge, consisting of a single two-lane carriageway and a combined footpath and cycleway – connecting communities and businesses over the motorway and supporting investment in jobs and housing for decades to come.
Until the end of this week, off-peak stop-go boards are in place on the bridge itself for site investigations, while from Monday 10 January work to install the temporary safety barrier in the hard shoulders and a 50mph speed limit, is starting along the M56.
Carefully demolishing the old bridge once it is sandwiched between the new one and the existing railway bridge serving the West Coast main line, is just one of the challenges for National Highways and lead constructor AmeySRM. Major internet and water services – supporting hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses in Cheshire and Merseyside north of the M56 – are carried across the motorway by the existing bridge and are having to be diverted. The topography is also a challenge. The bridge runs at an angle across the M56 and the land falls on the southern side of the motorway requiring a complicated design for the bridge decks and concrete parapets in the motorway verges.
This month’s work along the motorway includes:
- Nightly and weekend lane closures to install the temporary safety barriers along the eastbound and westbound carriageways.
- The weekend lane closures taking place in the eastbound carriageway this weekend (Friday 14 January to Monday 17 January) and in the westbound carriageway next weekend (Friday 21 January to Monday 24 January).
- Overnight – 11pm to 6am Sunday to Monday – full carriageway closures on each of the two weekends – eastbound Sunday to Monday 16 and 17 January and westbound on Sunday to Monday 23 and 24 January. A clearly-signed diversion will be in place between junction 11 and junction 12 using the A558 and A553 expressways on the Runcorn side of the motorway.
The motorway will need to be closed for two weekends – in the spring and autumn – for installation of the new bridge and demolition of the old one.
Anyone seeking further information or wishing to sign up for automatic updates can visit the project webpage at www.nationalhighways.co.uk/A533BridgeReplacement or follow National Highways on Facebook (National Highways: North-West) or Twitter @HighwaysNWEST
Anyone with questions or looking to receive the project team’s weekly traffic management bulletin, should email the project team at A533expresswaybridge@highwaysengland.co.uk or call National Highways’ 24-hour customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.