Team worked around the clock to install major traffic bridge

​Date: 05/01/2016
Ref: PR 6147

Work on the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road (WERR) remains on track, after a team worked around the clock throughout Christmas Day and Boxing Day to install a major traffic bridge underneath the railway.

The WERR is a £33 million scheme which will provide an essential road link between the A642 and A638, enabling the development of around 2,500 new homes on the City Fields along with reducing congestion and pollution within the city. It is expected to be completed by its Spring 2017 deadline.

The project team successfully passed one of its latest and most critical points over Christmas, with the installation of a 1200 tonne traffic bridge underneath the railway lines serving Wakefield Kirkgate Station, near to the Eastmoor estate.

The 56-hour round-the-clock operation was a major feat of engineering which began at 11pm on Christmas Eve until 8am on Sunday 27 December, and has taken years of planning.

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.”

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 it marks an important landmark in this major project.”

The railway lines serving Wakefield Kirkgate Station were cut and removed to allow Wakefield Council’s appointed contractors Hochtief to excavate a hole in the existing embankment.

The bridge, which had been constructed over several previous weeks, 50 metres from the railway, was then carried into position using specialist low-loading platform trucks.

Parts of the excavated embankments were then refilled and the railway lines re-laid in time for the railways to open on Sunday 27 December.

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.

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.