The new A57 road and lifting bridge at Barton in Greater Manchester has opened, 18 months after the bridge’s deck partially collapsed during testing.
The new lifting bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal is part of the £32M Western Gateway Infrastructure Scheme, with construction work carried out by a joint venture of Hochtief and Buckingham Group.
In May 2016, during a planned test of the new bridge, there was a failure. Photographs and video footage from the scene showed that two of the four lifting connections failed, dropping the bridge onto its abutments (see below). It delayed the bridge’s opening by around a year.
After a full investigation into the incident, repairs and safety testing have been completed and final approvals from Highways England and Transport for Greater Manchester have been given for the bridge to open.
The scheme will provide links to Port Salford, a freight terminal under construction on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in Barton-upon-Irwell in the City of Salford, Greater Manchester.
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In welcoming the opening of the new road and bridge, a spokesperson for Peel Land & Property said: “Peel has been committed to improving the road infrastructure in and around Port Salford, the AJ Bell Stadium and TraffordCity for many years and, as a company, have invested £35M into the new lifting bridge and extension of the A57 from Irlam. We have been working closely alongside our contractors and colleagues in Salford and Trafford councils. We are delighted that today’s opening of the new bridge and road will form part of the highway network, benefitting the general public, the local economy and community.”
However, the bridge has been the source of a row between Peel Land & Property and the local council over who will pay for its maintenance.
Salford City mayor Paul Dennett said: “Salford City Council is still in discussions with Peel Land & Property over the liability for maintaining and operating the bridge but I’m pleased that Peel Land & Property has agreed a way forward with ourselves and Trafford Council, in the interests of local residents and our communities. My sympathies go out to the residents who have been inconvenienced, but I am confident we can now move forward in the interests of our residents.”
Trafford Council leader councillor Sean Anstee added: “Despite the fact that we have yet to reach agreement over liability for the future maintenance of the bridge, I am pleased that all parties have successfully worked together to ensure the necessary approvals are in place in time for the bridge to open before Christmas – great news for everyone involved, especially the local communities who have been anxiously waiting for this news.”
Howard Civil Engineering carried out civils works for the bridge with Cass Hayward as designer. It has extensive experience of moveable bridges and has been involved in the design of vertical lifting bridges, swing bridges, bascule bridges, dutch drawbridges, retractable bridges and roll on roll off link spans.