Strengthening works, scheduled for completion by 31 December 2011, enable historic weight restrictions to be removed.
Completion three months early signals a triumph for the early contractor involvement (ECI) procurement route. The integrated ECI team comprises the Highways Agency (also representing Merseytravel and Wirral Council), Costain (principal contractor), Amey (designer), Cleveland Bridge UK (strengthening), Denholm (access/blasting/painting) and VVB (power and electrical).
Work began on site in March 2009. The complex critical strengthening work required 100km of new weld in extremely confined conditions to strengthen the 3.7km of steel box girder. There were more than one million man-hours worked on the project with not a single lost time accidents.
The structure has now been released for follow-on refurbishment work, including painting, drainage, lighting renewal, cathodic protection, joint replacement and other highway works.
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.
Highways Agency NW 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.”
Costain project manager Simon Ellison added: “Equally satisfying to delivering the main scheme objective early was the way in which it’s been delivered. It’s been a focussed integrated team effort from day one. The fact that the strengthening has been handed over completely defect free and without any lost time 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.”