Watch: Here’s how to slide an 800-tonne bridge along a motorway
It’s not an everyday sight but earlier this month an 800-tonne bridge joined the cars, vans and lorries making their way along England’s motorways.
Highways England has released new timelapse footage showing six giant remote-controlled transporters removing the bridge from the M53 while a stretch of the motorway was closed near Birkenhead during the first weekend in August.
The transporters – which are operated remotely with millimetre precision – slowly moved the main section of the bridge away from its supports on either side.
The 50-year-old bridge, which carried the southbound entry slip road over the motorway at junction 2 near Moreton, was then rotated by 90 degrees before being transported along the road.
The M53 reopened 12 hours ahead of schedule after the bridge was moved to an area away from the motorway where it can be safely dismantled, without causing damage to the road surface.
Without work taking place to replace the bridge, Highways England would have needed to introduce restrictions for HGVs in the future due to the bridge’s aging condition.
Mangat Bansal, Highways England’s programme delivery manager in the North West, said:
“It’s an amazing sight watching an 800-tonne bridge glide slowly along the M53 and then turning 90 degrees a couple of times to reach its final destination.
“We’d like to thank all our contractors who did a fantastic job of making sure the bridge removal ran smoothly, and getting the motorway reopened 12 hours ahead of schedule.
“We’re now starting work on constructing the new bridge, which is due to open next year and should still be there in over 120 years.”
The new bridge will be constructed using steel and concrete, and is due to open in summer 2021. A similar bridge on the southbound exit slip road at junction 2 opened in 2015 after the old bridge was removed.
The southbound entry slip road onto the M53 at junction 2 will be closed until June 2021 while work now takes place to construct the new bridge.
Drivers wanting to head southbound need to travel around a mile north along the M53 and turn around at junction 1, or enter the motorway at junction 3 instead.
Shahid Bangi, Carnell’s contract manager, commented:
“Working in collaboration with Highways England and our framework partners, we have safely delivered a value-engineered solution. Adapting the way we worked resulted in cost-savings, as well as reduced disruption to local residents and road users.”
More details on the scheme are available here: www.highwaysengland.co.uk/regions/north-west