North West

Bidston Moss Viaduct is completed ahead of schedule

The early completion of strengthening works for the M53 Bidston Moss Viaduct on the Wirral has enabled historic weight restrictions to be removed.

The early completion has signalled a triumph for the early contractor involvement (ECI) procurement route. The integrated ECI team comprises the Highways Agency (who are also representing Merseytravel and Wirral Council), main contractor Costain and architects Amey. In addition, Cleveland Bridge UK was contracted for the strengthening, Denholm for the access/blasting/painting and VVB for the power and electrical works.

Highways Agency North West director, Andrew Watson, said: “The fact that it has been achieved three months early is evidence of how well the project is being delivered. Everyone involved in the project – organisation and individual – should take a great deal of credit in getting this 11-year old problem on the network solved.”

Opened in 1970, the Bidston Moss Viaduct is the main route into the Kingsway Tunnel under the River Mersey. The 730m long box girder bridge carries the M53 over the A554 roundabout and the Birkenhead to New Brighton railway and is used by over 50,000 vehicles daily, including 3,000 heavy goods vehicles. It is jointly owned by the Highways Agency, Wirral Borough Council and Mersey Travel.

After completing a range of technical surveys, studies and assessment, it was concluded that online strengthening would be the best option. The complex critical strengthening work has required 100km of new weld in extremely confined conditions in order to strengthen the 3.7km of steel box girder.

Over one million man-hours have been spent working on the project, which has included the strengthening of 62 boxes, pier repairs, highway deck replacement and the replacement of lighting and electrics.

Works began on site in March 2009 and the £89.9m project remains on target to be the first scheme of its type to be completed on time and below budget in spring 2012.

Costain project manager, Simon Ellison, said: “Equally satisfying to delivering the main scheme objective early was the way in which it’s been delivered. It’s been a focused integrated team effort from day one. The fact that the strengthening has been handed over completely defect free and without any lost time or accidents demonstrates the capability and commitment of all those involved. In line with our original promise, we have maintained the M53 motorway at maximum capacity during all peak times and we haven’t had a single traffic delay complaint throughout the life of the project.”

Lean Division

The Highways Agency (HA) formed a Lean Division in April 2009, focusing on improving performance both internally and across their supply chain’s operations.

Costain and the HA have introduced Collaborative Planning through onsite daily meetings which are attended by senior management and a supervisor from each subcontractor. In these meetings, each representative sets out a plan for the activities that they wish to complete the next day. If a task is not completed, the reason is recorded in order to identify trends and ensure that the root causes of any problems are addressed.

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