Sydney Road Bridge in Crewe has been officially reopened following an £11m project to remove a major traffic ‘pinch point’.
Work to replace the previous arched bridge with a new, wider structure capable of taking two-way traffic began in May last year, as part of Cheshire East Council’s commitment to easing congestion in the town.
The improvement scheme – delivered by Network Rail on behalf of Cheshire East Council – includes a shared cycleway and footway over the bridge, a signal-controlled pedestrian crossing and improved cycle provision along Sydney Road.
Today, Cheshire East councillors, members of the council’s project team and representatives from Network Rail and Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership met to unveil a commemorative plaque at the new bridge – marking the official completion of the scheme.
Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “The replacement of Sydney Road Bridge has been a hugely important scheme in helping to unlock the northern corridor of Crewe and providing the infrastructure needed to support the delivery of the council’s Local Plan.
“It is great news that this scheme has been completed and that people and businesses can now feel the benefits.”
Sydney Road Bridge was reopened to traffic at the end of June, with the final minor works completed over the past few weeks.
Cllr Brian Roberts, cabinet member for highways and waste at Cheshire East Council, said: “The removal of the old bridge and installation of the new structure has been an impressive feat of engineering.
“The scheme is not only of huge benefit to motorists but important in helping to promote sustainable travel and enhancing access to key destinations, such as the Bentley factory and Leighton Hospital.”
As part of the demolition process, two circular saws – the blades of which measured around 160cms in diameter – were used to cut the old bridge’s arches into sections.
These were then lifted out by one of the largest cranes in the UK, capable of lifting up to 600 tonnes. Each of the crane’s 14 counterweights weighed 10 tonnes – the equivalent of the average weight of five large cars.
Cllr Roberts added: “We recognise that the works at Sydney Road Bridge have caused disruption to residents and to motorists and we would like to reiterate our thanks to them for their patience and understanding while the scheme has been completed.”
The bridge scheme is part of a package of works in the north of Crewe, which also includes the Crewe Green Roundabout upgrade – completed in November last year.
It was largely financed through the Department for Transport and Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with a £5.85m grant from the Local Growth Fund. A further £4.15m came from developer contributions.
Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said: “We’re committed to supporting economic growth across the Northern Powerhouse and rebalancing the economy so that it works for everyone.
“That is why I welcome the £5.85m investment from the Government’s Local Growth Fund to complete this much needed improvement to the road network in Crewe, reducing congestion and providing extra capacity on a key route that will help drive further growth across Cheshire’s thriving economy.”
In building the new bridge, 1,800 tonnes of concrete was used – enough to fill around four three-bedroom houses.
The piling, which provides the stability and strength for the ends of the bridge, goes 24m below ground. This is roughly the same depth as the height of the council’s Delamere House building, in Crewe.
Christine Gaskell CBE, DL, chair of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The completion of the Sydney Road Bridge upgrade is a major milestone in improving the infrastructure of Crewe as one of the region’s primary economic hubs.
“This £5.85m from the Local Growth Fund comes on top of three other significant investments the LEP has made in Crewe – including £10m towards the redevelopment of Crewe town centre and the Market Hall – demonstrating our commitment to consistently improving communities for both residents and businesses.”
Thomas Coon, project manager for Network Rail, added: “Our work to rebuild Sydney Road Bridge will provide a reliable and safe crossing of the West Coast Main Line for road users and passengers for many years to come.
“We have worked closely with Cheshire East Council during the project and we are delighted to see the new, wider bridge open to traffic. We’d like to thank passengers, residents and road users for their patience while we carried out this essential work.”