Cheshire East Council bosses say replacing the Sydney Road Bridge in Crewe will help the town grow.
Work on the £11m project started in May 2018, and saw a new, wider structure installed that is capable of taking two-way traffic.
The road reopened in June this year – delivered by Network Rail on behalf of Cheshire East Council – and includes a shared cycleway and footway over the bridge, and a signal-controlled pedestrian crossing.
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.
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.
A crane lifted out the old concrete arched bridge on Sydney Road and installed a new wider bridge
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.
“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.”
Thomas Coon, project manager for Network Rail, Philip Cox, chief executive of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, and councillor Brian Roberts unveil the commemorative plaque
The £11m scheme 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.
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.
Chief Executive of the LEP, Philip Cox, said: "We are doing the local industrial strategy for the area at the moment, and we have been surveying businesses - holding 35 events consulting with firms and others.
"Their number one issue is traffic congestion.
"We had expected them to talk about the fantastic environment, or the great towns we have - but traffic congestion is their main priority.
"That is why we are putting so much money into tackling these issues."
As well as good news for the business community, it is hoped that the new bridge will make a difference to nearby residents.
"People living near here are not having stationary traffic pumping out exhaust fumes into their front gardens," Philip added.
"A scheme that can improve traffic flow and the environment all at once is an absolute winner for us."
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.”
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.”
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.”