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Privately financed M1/A1 link opens early

BRITAIN'S LARGEST privately financed motorway scheme, the £200M M1/A1 link near Leeds, opened last Wednesday night without ceremony.

The three year project opened nine days in advance of tomorrow's official tape cutting by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and two months ahead of contract completion. It now offers an 18km motorway shortcut between the A1M and the M1/M62 south of Leeds, plus 10km of widened existing motorway at either end.

Joint venture contractor on the project, Kvaerner/Balfour Beatty, scrapped original conventional designs for all 48 bridges and 28km of flexible carriageway in favour of a whole life costing analysis involving jointless decks and concrete roadway.

Included in the design, build, finance and operate contract is 30 years of maintenance. Most concrete bridges have integral designs incorporating fixed piers, sliding abutments or flexible steel H-pile foundations to eliminate bearings and expansion joints.

Use of continuously reinforced concrete pavement or high strength stone mastic asphalt wearing course should ensure no carriageway reconstruction at all throughout the maintenance period, claimed Kvaerner/BB.

Wet weather last autumn and additional work on safety barriers prevented the three months early December completion that was hoped for. But last week's opening still allows concessionaire Yorkshire Link - a partnership between the contractors' parent groups Kvaerner Corporate Development and BICC - to start collecting shadow tolls some eight weeks early.

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