New technology to slash bridge repair time on the A14
Innovative techniques and new technology are set to save drivers from up to 10 weeks of disruption on the A14 in Suffolk as vital renewal work on a major bridge get underway this weekend.
Advances such as hydro-demolition and a new rapid drying concrete are expected to cut the time needed to complete major maintenance on the Hillhouse viaduct, which carries the A14 over the River Gipping between Tot Hill and Stowmarket, from around three months to as little as just two weekends of work.
The work will see key components on the bridge replaced to ensure its safe and reliable operation for years to come.
Hydro-demolition (blasting) is a removal technique that utilises high-pressure water to remove deteriorated and sound concrete. Roadworkers will use this skill to quickly remove the concrete surrounding the existing bridge joints, before replacing them with new ones.
Once complete, a rapid drying concrete will be used to secure the joints in place. Instead of having to wait up to seven days for the concrete to cure, and get below the required moisture content, the 19 tonnes of concrete needed for each joint can set in as little as four hours.
The £1.2m work is part of the £55.8m being invested in maintaining and improving the East of England’s trunk roads and motorways this year.
Ashley Prigmore, Assistant Service Delivery Manager at Highways England, said: “When most drivers cross a bridge I’m sure they don’t give much thought to the joints, but they are vital components and are designed to be replaced from time to time. We understand how important the A14 is, it is a vital road link between the West Midlands and East Anglia, and is of local, regional, national and international significance.
“By hydro-blasting and using a rapid drying concrete we’re able to take vital road upgrades that may have taken eight to 12 weeks, and complete them over the course of two weekends. This will have a huge impact in terms of minimising disruption, keeping the A14 open and improving the network for drivers.”
The first set of joints being replaced supports the eastbound A14.
A full closure this weekend of the A14 eastbound carriageway will be in place from Friday 9pm until Monday 6am.
The second weekend of works from next Friday, June 21 will see the same work take place on the westbound carriageway from the Friday at 9pm until Monday 6am.
Traffic will be diverted via A1120 and A1308 Gipping Way.
To keep up to date on the latest information around the road upgrades on the A14 at Hillhouse viaduct, follow @HighwaysEast on Twitter.