A major milestone in the construction of the Heysham to M6 Link Road will be reached this week as the first enormous beams are swung into place to create a new bridge over the River Lune.
The completed Lune West Bridge will be 211 metres long and contain more than 2,300 tonnes of steelwork, secured with around 55,000 bolts.
The operation will begin with one of the UK’s biggest mobile cranes being assembled on the north bank of the river over three days, ready to lift the bridge girders into place.
The four main girders each weigh around 160 tonnes and are over 70 metres long. Work to lift them into place is scheduled to begin today.
Phil Barrett, director of community services for Lancashire County Council, said: “The new Lune Bridge is the single biggest structure needed for the Heysham to M6 Link Road and its construction will be a real spectacle.
“I know that Costain have been looking forward to this big engineering challenge and preparing carefully for this crucial phase of the project for some time.
“We’re now over halfway through construction and, with much of the earthworks completed, we can already get a sense of how the finished road might look. Once the bridges and other major structures are in place to support the carriageway construction, we will be able to really start looking forward to the road opening in summer 2016.
“It’s also encouraging to hear that companies are already investing to take advantage of the better links to the Heysham peninsula that the link road will provide.”
Members of the public will be able to watch the bridge being constructed from the safety of the Lune Cycleway on the south bank of the River Lune. There is no vehicle access to the area, with nearest parking at Denny Beck, off Caton Road (A683).
Andrew Langley, project director for Costain, said: “The lifting operations for the bridge sections that form the new Lune West Bridge marks a significant milestone in the delivery of the scheme.
“There are great viewing areas on the south side of the River Lune, on the Lune Cycleway. From there people are able to see first-hand the enormity of the cranes and bridge sections, as well as the operations themselves.”
Eleven major structures are being built to take the link road over and under existing infrastructure.
Construction of the road began in January 2014, with more than 1m cubic metres of earth being moved during the first year of work.
The new £124.5m link road will connect the Heysham peninsula directly to the M6.