Work on the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road is on track to be finished by/ahead of its forecast completion date of spring 2017 after the team worked around the clock throughout Christmas Day and Boxing Day to install an 850,000 tonne traffic bridge underneath the railway.
Getting the new bridge – which weighs more than 10 times London’s Tower Bridge and had been constructed several weeks previously – in place began at on Christmas Eve and was completed on Sunday 27 December.
The 56-hour round-the-clock operation has taken years of planning and required the cutting of railway lines serving Wakefield Kirkgate Station to enable Wakefield Council’s appointed engineers Hochtief excavating a hole in the embankment into which the bridge was fitted. Parts of the embankment were then refilled and the railway lines re-laid.
The £33m Wakefield Eastern Relief Road is a joint West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Wakefield Council scheme designed to support the creation of thousands of new, local jobs, make possible the construction of 2,500-home on the City Fields site. It will also reduce city centre congestion and pollution by providing a new road link between the A642 and A638.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair and Wakefield Council Leader Cllr Peter Box said: “Manoeuvring the new bridge into place while there were no trains for two days over Christmas was a critical element of progressing the Eastern Relief Road. Had the works not been completed by the 8am deadline it would have meant major disruption to the local railway network and a substantial increase in the scheme’s costs so I’m delighted the operation was a success despite the very wet conditions.
“This was an excellent piece of coordination and planning and I would like to congratulate everyone involved on the operation’s success.”
Wakefield Eastern Relief Road is part of the Combined Authority’s 10-year programme of strategic transport schemes targeted to accelerate growth and create up to 20,000 jobs across the region. Funding for the schemes is through the £1bn Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
Find out more about West Yorkshire Combined Auhtority's 10-year programme of strategic transport schemes.
Cllr David Dagger Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways at Wakefield Council said:
“I am very proud this major engineering feat has been successfully completed. It was a huge challenge and the marks an important landmark in this major project.”
If the works had been postponed or uncompleted, it would have meant a likely delay to completion of the whole scheme because of the difficulty in finding a suitable time to carry out such extensive works without disrupting the railways.