Viaduct project enters final stages

29 March 2010, 09:02 | Updated: 14 April 2010, 10:49

A new 5,000 tonne bridge to carry the southbound A34 over the A40, a railway line and the Oxford Canal has been moved into position.

It's one of the final stages in the project to replace Oxford's Wolvercote Viaduct, which has been going on for the last two years.

The old viaduct was built in the 1960s and had started to crumble, meaning it was more cost-effective to completely replace, rather than mend.  The new viaduct bridges are designed to last 120 years.

Overnight on Saturday 27 March 2010, the Highways Agency moved the bridge, which has been used as a temporary carriageway for the southbound A34, into its permanent position alongside the new northbound carriageway.

The replacement project has cost £44m, and by doing the work in stages, the A34 has remained open nearly all the time, albeit with narrow lanes and 40mph speed restrictions.

Watch a video of the bridge being moved into place

Video courtesy of the Highways Agency

The roadworks on the A34 at Wolvercote are going to continue for some weeks to come yet, before the project finishes in the summer.  The southbound A34 was shut overnight from 7pm on Saturday 27 March until 1pm on Sunday, with traffic diverted around the Oxford Ring Road.  The northbound A34 will be shut overnight on Sunday 28 March between 10pm and 6am.

The Highways Agency say by keeping two lanes open in each direction nearly all the time they've been able to avoid major congestion problems.

Wolvercote Viaduct project at a glance

Summer 2008
40mph speed restrictions and average speed cameras put in place
Work starts on building a new temporary southbound bridge, to the south of the existing two carriageways

9 March 2009
Temporary viaduct opens to southbound traffic
Southbound A34 traffic switched onto new temporary bridge
Northbound A34 traffic switched onto old southbound bridge

March - May 2009
Old northbound bridge demolished

May - September 2009
New northbound bridge built

26 September 2009
New northbound bridge opened
Northbound A34 traffic switched from old southbound bridge to new northbound one

Autumn 2009
Work starts to demolish and replace old southbound bridge

27 March 2010
Temporary southbound bridge moved into position to become the new southbound bridge

March - Summer 2010
Deconstruction of struts that used to hold temporary southbound bridge

Summer 2010
Project completed and speed restrictions lifted