Somewhere over the Railway

30 November 2017

Work continues on Splott Bridge.

Traffic to switch sides on the 8th of December.

Replacing a 120 year old bridge without closing it and causing traffic chaos is no mean feat, but that was the challenge faced by Network Rail Wales and principle contractor, Carillion, this year with the demolition and reconstruction of Splott Road Bridge.

Work to the bridge, part of the railway electrification project between London and Cardiff, is being done in two halves.  The east side is currently closed and single-lane traffic on the west side is managed by a four-way traffic light system.

Work to the bridge started in Spring 2017, shortly after Beresford Road bridge reopened, and is on schedule to finish in July 2018.

Tommy Gunning, Works Manager at Carillion, the principle contractor on the Bridge, told Inksplott:

“The current plan is to open the first half of the bridge on Friday the 8th of December.”

On that date, traffic will be transferred from the west-side of the bridge to the east side, where they will open the road over the newly reconstructed half of the bridge and switch attention to the west side to complete the reconstruction.

Steve Keighly, Programme Manager (Gauge Clearance), The Greater West Programme – Wales, Network Rail told Inksplott,

“In February 2018, the road will be closed for approximately two weeks, around the 10th to the 26th, while we remove the western side of the bridge and put the new beams in place and concrete units which form the structure for the new bridge.

“There will also be other short periods when the road is fully closed to pedestrians for safety reasons and, during these times, we will provide a minibus service to transport people.”

The minibus will be in place twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and can be used by anyone, no booking required.  The bus will travel from Splott to Adamsdown via Beresford Road Bridge and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete the circuit there and back.

Between December and February, the team will be preparing for the demolition, completing service diversions.

Steve said:

“In a highly urban setting like we have here, there are oodles of utilities going across the bridge.  There’s gas, electric, water, and every one of those needs to be safely diverted in such a way that we don’t affect the continuity of the services to local residents.

“We’re having to provide temporary diversions then temporary stage two, and three, and move them across quite a few times in order to allow us to carry on the work safely.”

Residents may be pleased to hear that there will be a stop period for two weeks over Christmas.  Tommy said:

“Traditionally, we (the rail), do a lot of work over Christmas, but people don’t like the disruption.  Though in all fairness, I’ve done quite a few bridges around here now, and people have been great.”

Steve added:

“We work really hard to minimise the disruption.  People may think that we just turn up on the day and just do it but we plan these works for several months before we start on site.  That’s not just the design but also working out the logistics to make sure that, one, we can be certain of delivering within the timescales we’ve allowed ourselves and also to make sure that the impact on the local community is managed.  We can’t avoid any impact at all through the nature of the work but we do work very hard to minimise that wherever possible.”

When asked about the impact of the ongoing bridge work on local businesses, Tommy told us:

“Baker’s Dozen has been good as gold.  What we did with the bakery is kept access to the bakery at all times, but a lot of their business was passing trade, so when we did the bridge demolition in August, we arranged to have meals from the bakery.  They were providing us with 180 meals a day, for four days.  You can have 50-60 people on a shift for a job like this”.

Splott Road Road Bridge will have a 120 year lifespan and will feature the same concrete patterned walls as Beresford Road and Mardy Road Bridge, as agreed with Cardiff Council at design stage, with Windsor Road Bridge being the odd one out, decorated with blue steel panels.

Key dates:

  • 8th December 2017 – traffic transferred onto the new half of the bridge
  • Christmas period (two weeks) – site closed, no work to the bridge
  • 10th – 26th February 2018 – bridge closed to traffic and pedestrians
  • July 2018 – work completes and Splott Road Bridge is fully reopened

The compound for the bridge workers is at the end of Adeline Street, on the site of an old children’s playground, which was neglected and overgrown.  At the end of the project, the hope is that the land will be handed over to the community for use as a community garden.  Local Councillor, Huw Thomas, and Rebecca Clark from Green City Events recently visited the site and met with representatives from Network Rail and Carillion, to begin negotiations.  Carillion has offered to donate any spare construction kit that they have at the end of the build, such as timber, pipes and old tools, to help transform the space and build planters.

Steve told Inksplott:

“Network Rail is limited with what we can do because we’re not funded for this, but we’re trying to do what we can to leave something better for the community.”

At the end of the project, it will take Network Rail and Carillion two to three weeks to pack down and hand over the cleared site to the community.

Tommy said:

“We’re keen to give something back.  We’ve done quite a lot with the community so far.  We had a cat on site that we took down to Roz Mog’s cattery.  We’ve had lots of conversations with Moorland Primary School.  Two weeks ago we had 24 kids from the school and we buried a time capsule in the concrete of the bridge; we made a Jumanji box and they put in various items like a local newspaper, coins, toys etc.”

The team also went into Moorland Primary School and delivered a ‘big build challenge’, where they built bridges out of cereal boxes, toilet rolls etc., to try and encourage interest in construction.

According to Steve and Tommy, the children were highly interested in the project and asked loads of questions.  One in particular tickled the team; a little boy who asked ‘how much do you get paid?’

The children also looked into the history of the bridge.  Tommy told Inksplott an interesting fact about the bridge: in the Second World War, half of the steel bridge panels were removed to be used for armourments to make pieces for tanks and after the war they replaced them with composite cast iron parapets.  Something you can only see from the tracks.

So there we have it; an update on Splott Road Bridge, the last of the bridges of Splott to be replaced.

If you have any questions, or concerns about the work being carried out, you can contact Network Rail on

Helpline: 03457 11 41 41

Email: CRWales@networkrail.co.uk

Website 

For more information on Carillion, visit their website

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