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Tue September 28 2021

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HS2 bridge girders ready for assembly

29 May 20 Steel girdershave arrived on site for a bridge that is set to be one of HS2’s first permanent structures.

First girders arrive on site in Solihull
First girders arrive on site in Solihull

Cleveland Bridge won a contract last year to supply 1,130 tonnes of steel girders to Laing O’Rourke Murphy Joint Venture (LMJV), HS2’s early works contractor delivering enabling works across the West Midlands.

The girders are for four modular bridges at the site of HS2’s new Interchange station in Solihull, as part of a reconfiguration of the road network.

Sixteen of the 20-metres girders were assembled in the Cleveland Bridge factory as 50-tonne pairs to minimise the amount of delivery vehicles on the road. Now on site, the girders will be assembled in a purpose-built area using 8,500 high-strength bolts, to make a 65-metre single span.

Once the assembled steel bridge structure has a composite concrete deck added to it, the completed 2,750-tonne structure will be moved into its final position over the M42 motorway.

Laing O’Rourke’s foundations division, Expanded, and its fabrication operation, Explore Manufacturing, have made and installed modular supports for the bridge on either side of the motorway.   

The two modular bridges are being constructed near the site of the new HS2 Interchange station, forming new connections to a triangle of land formed by the M42, the A45 and the A452. They are the first permanent structures to be built by HS2 and will span the M42 and A446 respectively, with a further two bridges to take roads over the new high speed line. They are part of a remodelling of the road network in the area to divert the roads out of the way of the new HS2 line and at the same time connect the current road network to the new station.

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LMJV project director Simon Russell said: “Digital design and offsite manufacturing have enabled us to develop these bridges virtually, and then assemble the components on site.  The beams will be assembled and then the concrete deck and parapets added to form the new bridge in a custom worksite beside the motorway.  We are using modular concrete components produced off site to form the deck and parapets, which improves programme reliability and reduces the amount of on-site working. The composite steel and concrete superstructure will be driven into place this summer.

“This is engineering innovation at its best – the assembly of high quality components, built in safe factory environments, and delivered to site when needed, mean less impact on the local community, fewer vehicle movements, and greater construction efficiency for the project.”

Cleveland Bridge UK managing director Chris Droogan said: “We’re incredibly proud to play a part in the delivery of the UK’s largest infrastructure project and this is a significant addition to our track-record for producing structures for iconic developments around the world.  It reflects our strategy to maintain our position at the heart of the development of major infrastructure, which utilises our extensive facilities and the capabilities of our highly-experienced workforce, while creating opportunities to develop future generations through our award-winning apprenticeship programme.

“We’ve been very conscious of the need to continue work during the Covid-19 crisis and have put extra measures in place to ensure we met government guidelines and follow best practice. This has enabled us to continue operating at 100%, which has been key to us staying on track to deliver our product on time.”

HS2 head of enabling works Bill Price added: “It’s fantastic to see construction work stepping up a gear on the first permanent structures to be built by HS2, and to see how this work is creating jobs and opportunities for people right across the country. Businesses and employees in every region of the UK are helping to build HS2, and over 9,000 jobs are now supported by the programme, with 98% of over 2,000 contracts going to UK registered businesses like Cleveland Bridge.

“These highway works are a major project in their own right, involving construction workers, specialist engineers, designers and project managers. We’re utilising cutting edge technology and world-leading construction techniques such as this modular bridge design, to deliver the highest level of quality and efficiency as we build Britain’s new railway.”

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