New tech helps deliver vital bridge upgrade in rapid time
Innovative techniques and new technology helped save drivers from up to three months of disruption on the A14 in Suffolk as Highways England completed vital renewal work on a major bridge in only four weekends.
Advances in a technique known as hydro-demolition and a new rapid drying concrete cut the time needed to complete the major maintenance on the Hill House viaduct, which carries the A14 over the River Gipping between Tot Hill and Stowmarket. The works which traditionally would have taken three months were completed over the course of two weekends closures and two subsequent night shifts to finish off remedial work.
Around 60 people were on site each weekend to ensure the key components that were being replaced on the bridge were safely delivered on time so that the A14 could return to usual running ahead of the morning.
Ashley Prigmore, Assistant Service Delivery Manager at Highways England, said:
“Of the thousands of drivers that cross the Hillhouse viaduct daily, I’m sure most of them don’t give much thought to the joints supporting their crossing. They’re vital components and are designed to be replaced from time to time.
“We understand how important the A14 is to local people as well as business at home and abroad. By hydro-blasting and using a rapid drying concrete we were able to take a vital road upgrade that may have taken up to 12 weeks and completed them over the course of four weekends. This not only drastically minimised disruption to drivers, but meant the road remained open at peak times.”
Hydro-demolition (blasting) is a removal technique that utilises high-pressure water to remove deteriorated and sound concrete. Roadworkers used this skill to quickly remove the concrete surrounding the existing bridge joints, before replacing them with new ones.
Once complete, a rapid drying concrete was used to secure the joints in place. Instead waiting up to seven days for the concrete to cure, and get below the required moisture content, the nineteen tonnes of concrete needed for each joint was set in as little as four hours.
Cllr Gary Green, of Suffolk County Council, said:
“I would like to record my thanks for Highways England working closely with the local councils to ensure that the disruption to the residents of Stowmarket was kept to the minimum.”
The £1.2m work is part of the £55.8 million being invested in maintaining and improving the East of England’s trunk roads and motorways this year.
To keep up to date on the latest information around the road upgrades in the East of England, follow @HighwaysEast on Twitter.