Three years on from high-pressure bridge installation, new road is providing relief for Wakefield

Opened in April 2017, the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road was the first scheme funded by the Combined Authority’s West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund to be completed. It links the A642 and A638 and as well as reducing congestion and air pollution in the city, has opened up land for 2,500 new homes as part of the City Fields development and areas for business use.

Ensuring the new, £33 million road opened on time meant installing a 1,200 tonne traffic bridge underneath the railway lines between Wakefield Kirkgate and Castleford between 11pm on Christmas Eve to 8am on 27 December.

The process saw a team of 150 men and women work round the clock to cut and remove the rail lines, excavate a hole the width of the road in the existing embankment, transport the pre-constructed bridge into position, refill the excavated embankment and relay the railway lines in just 56 hours.

If the work hadn’t gone to plan it would have delayed the whole scheme and put back the opening of the new road for two years.

Watch a time-lapse video of the 56-hour bridge installation below: 


Motorists using the new road, which also boasts the longest single span bridge in Wakefield and the first new river crossing in Wakefield in over 100 years, are now saving around 12 minutes (Mon-Fri) on morning peak journeys between Doncaster Road and Newton Bar.

Around 2,500 new homes will be constructed on the 152-hectare City Fields development opened up by the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road, along with leisure, retail and business space, a new primary school, health facilities and parkland.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “When you look at the time-lapse video of the rail lines being removed, the huge new pre-fabricated bridge being rolled in, the hole filled and the rail lines being rebuilt, and you think about how accurate all the work needed to be to ensure it all fitted first time, it is quite awe inspiring.

“This was the first scheme supported by our West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund to be completed, and now we have committed £150 million from the Fund to invest in transport schemes that reduce congestion and speed up journeys and encourage people to use public transport. In turn this helps reduce local air pollution support business and encourage the creation of new, good-quality jobs.”

The West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund is supported through the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council and Chair of the Combined Authority’s Investment Committee said: “The creation of Wakefield Eastern Relief Road was one of the biggest and most ambitious projects this district has seen in decades and its success has been huge achievement for Wakefield.

“This is a great example of partnership working and it is very positive that we are seeing the benefits including reducing traffic congestion and faster journey times. The project has also improved transport links, opened new land for future development and is creating new jobs to support our district’s economy for years to come.”

26 Dec 2018

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