A £21m scheme to replace the 45-year-old Catthorpe Viaduct – which carries M6 southbound traffic over the M1– is progressing well, with a practical completion date of Spring 2012.
The Highways Agency had monitored the existing viaduct for several years due to its deteriorating condition. The area suffered from congestion, delays, long queues, accidents (sometimes fatal), conflicts between local and long distance traffic and barriers to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Temporary measures were put into place to safeguard the travelling public; however the monitoring identified a need to replace the viaduct and works commenced on site in July 2010.
The replacement is part of the M1 Junction 19 Improvement scheme, which itself is part of a £6 billion project to boost some of Britain’s busiest roads. The objectives of the Catthorpe Viaduct Replacement scheme are as follows: to relieve congestion at the junction and improve journey reliability; improve road safety; separate local traffic from long distance traffic; improve conditions for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, keep adverse environmental impacts to a minimum, and provide good value for money.
Due to its important strategic location on the highway network, the viaduct was given a high priority for replacement as there would be severe disruption to the network if it became unserviceable. Indeed, it is estimated that around 100,000 drivers pass through the junction every day and another 23,000 vehicles use the viaduct.
The replacement structure will be built within the existing highway boundary, south of the present viaduct, which has enabled the network to remain operational whilst the new structure is being built. The existing viaduct will be demolished during a series of overnight closures once the new viaduct has been constructed and is open to traffic. Coote Construction provided all the access scaffolding to the project.
The environmental effects of the scheme were considered and measures were taken to alleviate these effects. These included: tree and shrub planting combined with earth mounding; protection of wildlife and the creation of new habitats; drainage ponds to reduce the risk of pollution and flooding; and new routes for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
Two lanes will be kept available through the junction in both directions on both the M6 and the M1, with a temporary 50mph speed limit in place for the safety of road users.
Ivan Marriott, Highways Agency project manager, said: “This traffic management is being implemented for the safety of road users and to provide a safe working environment for the construction team.
“We are advising drivers to allow extra time for their journeys and asking them to drive safely while the roadworks are in place.”