Tens of thousands of tons of earth can be safely transported within a major rail development site near Stafford and kept off local roads after engineers completed the construction of a new bridge.
Workers are moving 230,000m3 of earth or ‘fill’ – enough material to fill almost 100 Olympic sized swimming pools - across the new road bridge which spans the existing Stafford to Crewe railway line at Norton Bridge.
The completion of the bridge means around 30 tons of earth can be moved at a time by articulated haulers crossing over existing railway lines within the development site.
The works are ‘cut and fill neutral’ which means earth taken from cuttings is used to make embankments or bunds elsewhere within the site. During the works around one million tons of earth will be moved in total.
When the earth-moving is complete the bridge will form part of a new 1.2km diverted section of the B5026 Stone to Eccleshall Road, set to be opened later this year.
Network Rail is investing £250m in the Stafford Area Improvements Programme to increase the number of passenger and freight services that can operate on the increasingly busy West Coast main line.
A flyover, six miles of new track and 11 new bridges are being built at Norton Bridge to remove the last major bottleneck on the line.
The work is being delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance - a partnership of VolkerRail, Atkins, Laing O’Rourke and Network Rail.
Staffordshire Alliance manager Matt Clark said: “It was great to see the first load of earth go across the bridge as it was the culmination of months of hard work and the team is very proud.”
Mr Clark said the bridge works began in January and much of the construction was carried out while trains ran on the Stafford to Crewe line to reduce to a minimum the time the line was closed.
During peak operations 30-ton loads of earth will cross the new bridge every 45 seconds using a traffic light system to fill in between the new bridges near Station Road/Stone Road junction at Norton Bridge.
Local residents wanting further information about the work should contact Network Rail’s national helpline on 03457 114 141; email: CRNW@networkrail.co.uk; or visit www.networkrail.co.uk/StaffordImprovements