VolkerHighways and sister business unit, VolkerLaser, are bringing together their combined experience to extend the life of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, as part of a £2.1 million contract for The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
The teams began phase two of the works on the 1966-built bridge, that forms part of the A332 Royal Windsor Way road between Windsor and the M4 motorway over the River Thames, in mid-August. The works are expected to be completed by January 2021.
VolkerHighways, the highways term maintenance contractor for The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, subcontracted VolkerLaser to provide ECI (early contractor involvement) advice, and subsequently worked collaboratively to determine solutions for the bridge repairs and carried out the structural repairs. Over the past two years, VolkerLaser’s scope of work has included structural investigations, feasibility studies, design of temporary works and design management.
During the works, VolkerHighways will be undertaking repairs to the bridge surfacing and managing traffic and other works to maximise the use of the lane and road closures on the carriageway. Both teams are coordinating activities to ensure works are carefully planned around Highways England M4 SMART motorway improvement programme, to minimise disruption to the public, local residents and businesses.
The level of works currently being carried out has been made possible due to additional funding secured by the Royal Borough – increasing from an initial £1.2 million to a total of £2.1 million. Following inspection, VolkerHighways’ specialists identified early in the project that the bridge’s holding down members were suffering from severe corrosion and additional work would be necessary to fully extend the life of the bridge.
As a result of the defects identified by inspection, abnormal loads were immediately banned from using the bridge. A specialist monitoring system was installed by VolkerLaser to measure any significant movement in the bridge decks, so immediate action could be taken, if required.
Specialist works being conducted by VolkerHighways
VolkerHighways is managing coordination with all parties, with several road closures programmed for overnight to minimise disruption for road users.
During the road closures, other repairs are also being coordinated, such as lining, grass cutting, barrier repairs and drainage repairs.
Coordinating diversion routes with Highways England and other authorities, VolkerHighways isreducing the flow of traffic on to the bridge and minimising congestion in the area. Much of the work is being carried out below the bridge, so signage will explain why there are lane closures on the bridge, despite no visible works. It is hoped this will reduce the number of enquiries from the public.
Maintaining good relations in the area, local residents and stakeholders are being made aware of the works via advance signage, local social media updates, and letter drops to affected businesses and residents.
Specialist works being conducted by VolkerLaser
The enabling works involved an environmental clean of the abutments and removal of asbestos pipes, as well as general site clearance, enlarging the access door, erecting the scaffolding and working platforms.
The main works comprise the team working under phased traffic management, in order to remove the existing holding down members. New concrete blocks will then be built, as per the specified design, before the new Macalloy system is installed and prestressing is undertaken.
Alistair Thompson, managing director of VolkerHighways, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to extend our work for The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, to include the works on this vital bridge, which acts as a key gateway into the town. It’s been great seeing the collaborative efforts and specialist skills come together from the VolkerHighways and VolkerLaser teams, to prepare for this substantial work and ensure a smooth process for the borough and local area.”
Councillor Gerry Clark, lead member for transport and infrastructure, says: “I’m happy to see work progressing well on Elizabeth Bridge as the main structural repairs get underway. VolkerHighways are working hard to ensure the works cause as little disruption as possible to our residents, businesses and visitors, by arranging overnight closures where possible and coordinating the works with Highways England, and we’re thankful for that.
“I’d also like to say a thank you to anyone who uses this route for their patience while we carry out this essential maintenance, which will preserve such a key route in and out of our historic town of Windsor.”
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