Bridge building to begin as Trans-Pennine upgrade scales new heights
A major upgrade to a key trans-Pennine route connecting Newcastle and Carlisle, and used by thousands of drivers every day, is entering a pivotal new phase.
Engineers are building two bridges on the A69 Bridge End roundabout near Hexham in Northumberland. The Highways England scheme will improve safety, reduce congestion, support economic growth and enhance access from the A69 into the town.
The team on the ground have removed all the earth needed to clear space for the new A69 carriageway. The bridge abutments which will hold the two new structures are being constructed, building momentum towards this month’s bridge work. Earlier this year new turnarounds were introduced and signage was upgraded to improve driver understanding, while alternative routes were also opened for pedestrians and cyclists.
Highways England project manager Russell Mclean said:
“We’re heading into an important new stage in the scheme. We will be using new methods which are safer for the workforce and which will also reduce the time it takes to build the bridges.
“We’ll construct each deck on the ground, starting with the beams, and then build up until it’s 95 per cent complete. Then we’ll use an industrial jack to lift it off the ground to a height where it can be lowered onto a self-propelled vehicle which will drive it into place next spring.”
Once the new bridge decks have been lifted into their final position, the team will fix in the ends of the new bridges to the abutments which will hold the new bridge decks in place. All of the different sections of roundabout will then be connected meaning the junction can then be opened.
When the roundabout is open to traffic, the temporary turnarounds will be removed. The junction and main A69 route will be open traffic with finishing touches taking place on the slip road and landscaping work.
The progress of the scheme has earned praise from Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, and Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council.
Guy Opperman said:
“I am delighted that our efforts to upgrade and improve the A69 are motoring ahead to their next stage.
“I know that many people have been frustrated with the disruption caused by the works, but as we move to the next stage, we can all look forward to improved safety and shorter journey times before too long. That is great news for motorists.”
Cllr Sanderson added:
“I am grateful that this work has progressed so well – this improvement is going to make a big difference for Hexham and the surrounding areas.”
100,000 working hours have been dedicated to the project. No staff have lost their job during the Covid-19 pandemic, nor has anyone been placed on furlough. The scheme continues to support the regional economy, with most of the workforce and companies used for materials and vehicles being based in the north.
All Highways England sites have strict safeguarding measures, in line with Public Health England guidance, to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and none of the sites are open to the public.
Meanwhile Interserve, one of the largest contractors working on the scheme, has won the prestigious ‘Excellence in Construction’ certificate by Considerate Constructors scheme for its work on the A69 Bridge End project.
For more information about the scheme follow @highwaysNEAST on Twitter and visit https://highwaysengland.co.uk/