Press release

Demolition on A38 makes way for new multi-million pound Merafield Bridge

Video footage showing the demolition of a bridge over the A38 near Plymouth this weekend has been released by Highways England.

The old Merafield Bridge at Plympton was demolished overnight on Saturday, marking the final stage of a £6.3 million maintenance project on the A38.

A new bridge, which was built alongside the old, was opened two weeks ago.

The project was completed as the Government delivers a £15 billion upgrade to motorways and major A-roads, which is the biggest in a generation.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

It’s vital that we replace out-of-date infrastructure so we can keep traffic moving and I am pleased Highways England has delivered this new bridge over the A38 on time and on budget.

As well as tackling congestion, our investment in England’s motorways and major A-roads is about keeping communities connected through projects like this.

Bridge demolition video

The old bridge was demolished on Saturday night and was spectacularly captured on camera by the demolition team.

Approximately 50kgs of explosives were used, contained within 278 drilled locations concentrated around the supporting piers and the abutments at each end.

The new concrete bridge is 80 metres long, 11.3 metres wide and made of 2,503 tonnes of concrete and 401 tonnes of steel.

South West Regional Director, Andrew Page-Dove said:

This was a big project that needed extensive planning to ensure traffic around Plymouth was kept flowing smoothly and the vital A38 transport link between Devon, Plymouth and South East Cornwall was maintained.

We worked very closely with Plymouth City Council, the Plymouth and Devon Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to ensure we got the traffic management right and we are very grateful for all the support we’ve received.

The old bridge was suffering from alkali silica reaction, commonly known as ‘concrete cancer’. In time, the structure would eventually become unsafe, and therefore needed replacing.

Parts of the old bridge were not fully broken up in the demolition, so work to break up and remove the bridge continued into Sunday afternoon. Throughout the project, timing of the work has been coordinated to avoid disruption during the South West’s busy holiday season.

The scheme will be fully completed by July. Remaining work will include clearing away the debris from the demolished structure, completing drainage on Merafield Road, finishing works on the new bridge and reinstating the road markings on the A38.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

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Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.