The bridge, which carries the busy A56 trunk road, will reopen to traffic this weekend. Work will then start to dismantle the temporary bridge, which has kept road traffic moving while the restoration of the swing bridge took place.
Rowing boats and traditional narrow boats have been able to pass underneath throughout the project but the Weaver Navigation is expected to be fully open to all river traffic by the end of October.
Funding for the project came from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), the Department for Transport and the Canal & River Trust. We managed the project, in conjunction with the Council, with Kier as the main contractor.
20,000 vehicles a day
The restoration of the 88-year-old bridge, which carries 20,000 vehicles a day, started in summer 2013 and is the first complete refurbishment in its history. This project will extend its life by over 50 years.
At a special ceremony to mark the project's completion today, a vintage Leyland Cub lorry and a modern day HGV, supplied by Huntapac Produce Ltd, will drive across the bridge to highlight the vehicle weight changes the bridge has had to cope with since it opened in 1926. On the river, a flotilla of rowing boats from Runcorn Rowing Club and boats from the River Weaver Navigation Society will also join in the celebrations.
Gleaming new paintwork
Canal & River Trust project manager Andy Johnson said:” The restoration work has given a new lease of life to a bridge that had become a rusting eyesore. Its restoration has been a challenging project but with its gleaming new paintwork, we hope local people will again be rightly proud of this iconic, historic waterway structure.
“Although the newly painted bridge certainly looks impressive, much of the project has been devoted to repairing the bridge structure itself. The bridge now has a completely new deck and beneath the bridge we have carried out extensive refurbishment of the unique buoyancy tank structure on which the bridge swings.
“Corrosion was a major concern but engineers were only able to evaluate the full extent of the problem once traffic had been diverted and the bridge deck removed. Further investigations resulted in additional steelwork repairs being scheduled as the project progressed, with the project team working hard to keep the repairs on programme. The end result is a bridge capable of supporting 40 tonne HGVs and a structure fit for the traffic demands of the next 50 years.
“The temporary road bridge has been a huge success and allowed traffic to keep flowing while restoration work was carried out on the swing bridge. By removing traffic completely, the engineers had unhindered safe access to the swing bridge and were able to complete the project more quickly.”
Whilst the temporary bridge has been in place, the Council has taken the opportunity, with the assistance of Kier and the Canal & River Trust, to alter the traffic signalled junction and restore the direct link between Frodsham and Sutton Weaver which was closed during the work. Pedestrian and cyclist facilities have been improved and the carriageway has been re-surfaced.