In the first phase of the preparatory works crossover points were constructed in the central reservation to allow traffic to access the opposite carriageway to run a ‘contraflow’ system.
This second phase of preparatory work, which begins on Sunday November 9, will consist of reinforcing the embankment adjacent to the bridge. In order to undertake this work a contraflow will be installed for approximately 1 mile with 2 eastbound lanes and 2 westbound lanes open to traffic. A temporary speed limit of 50pmh will be imposed whilst lane restrictions are in place for the safety of road users and road workers.
Service Delivery Manager, Mike Hillier, said:
The essential £6m investment to reconstruct Merafield Bridge will ensure the A38 and the local Merafield Road will be open to all traffic for many years to come. This second phase of work will reinforce and stabilise the eastbound verge slope, safeguarding the A38 from potential landslips, and providing stable ground for the new bridge construction. During this phase of work a minimum of two lanes will be open in both directions on the A38. Access along Merafield Road will be unaffected.
We understand significant schemes such as this can raise concerns from road users and other stakeholders and throughout the planning process the Highways Agency has fully focused on the need to keep disruption to a minimum and complete the work as soon as possible while creating a safe environment for motorists and construction workers.
The existing bridge is suffering from alkali silica reaction, commonly known as concrete cancer. In time, the structure would eventually become unsafe, and therefore needs to be demolished and a replacement structure built.
As part of the work the verge slope to the east has to be stabilised as movement has been recorded following periods of wet weather during recent winters. The slope will be stabilised by inserting nine metre long ‘nails’ into the ground to prevent any slippage.
Traffic management will be installed overnight on Sunday, November 9 and the normal hours of work will be between 7am and 7pm.
Some overnight work may be required but this will be limited to activities that do not create significant levels of noise.
This phase of the work is scheduled to be completed by Friday, December 5, after which the contraflow and speed restrictions will be removed.
Construction of the new bridge is planned to start in the Summer of 2015 and complete within a year.
The Agency has worked closely with Plymouth City Council in developing the scheme and will continue to do so as the details are finalised. We have also held a series of meetings with stakeholders and other partners to explain the plans and listen to any concerns.
Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.