A multi-million pound Highways England road improvement scheme, which will create thousands of jobs, reduce congestion and boost the South West economy, reached a significant milestone last weekend.
A 500-tonne crane lifted a new bridge into place as part of work to create a new elevated junction on the M49 and provide a much-needed connection into the Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area from the motorway network.
The M49 was due to be closed for the whole weekend, from 8pm on Friday, 21 June to 6am on Monday, 24 June, to enable this key part of the project, which involved lifting bridge beams, decking and other infrastructure into place immediately next to the existing bridge at Farm Lane.
But once the 500-tonne crane had manoeuvred the three bridge beams into place, two 55-tonne cranes set about installing the decking, and work was completed ahead of schedule and the M49 reopened to traffic around mid-morning on Sunday, 23 June.
Located to the south of the Western Approach Distribution Park and west of the village of Easter Compton, the two bridges will be linked into a single roundabout spanning the motorway with new access and exit slip roads connecting fully with both northbound and southbound traffic.
The £49 million scheme will not only promote economic growth in this area of Bristol, but also reduce the numbers of HGVs and other vehicles on the local road network.
Highways England is working with partners, including South Gloucestershire Council, Bristol City Council, the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and contractors Galliford Try.
And Nick Aldworth, Highways England’s South West Regional Delivery Director said: “The bridge installation marks a significant milestone for this strategically and economically important scheme for the South West and the Bristol area.
“Its proximity to the motorway network, railways and port makes it an ideal area to develop and encourage economic growth, and the road scheme has a phenomenally high benefit. Every £1 invested in this scheme will bring more than £30 into the local economy, generating more than 14,000 jobs in the long term.
“It’s pleasing to reach this stage of the project, and I’m delighted that we were able to complete such a complex operation ahead of schedule. In terms of partnership working, our project team and contractors Galliford Try worked hard to make the operation a success and that ultimately minimised the disruption for motorists using the M49.”
The new M49 junction project is the first Road Investment Strategy scheme to start construction in the South West, one of six multi-million pound road schemes aimed at boosting the economy, tourism and heritage in the region, all funded by the Government’s biggest-in-a-generation £15 billion investment in motorways and main A roads.
Construction of the new M49 junction is due to be completed this winter and Duncan Elliott, Managing Director of Galliford Try’s Highways business, said: “The Avonmouth junction scheme will bring far-reaching benefits and during construction, we are keeping local communities updated on progress and keeping any disruption to a minimum.”
For more information, got to the scheme website.