This week I met Karl Gilmore, Programme Manager for Network Rail for an update on replacing Beresford Road Bridge and was invited on site to see the progress and meet some of the team working on the project.
The first thing to know is that the old bridge is gone; it was removed really quickly after the closure of the road back in the summer. Secondly, the new bridge is all but built, with only the road surface remaining. Thirdly, the reopening of the bridge is still set for early spring 2017.
Originally concerned about high winds affecting crane time (as they did with Windsor Road bridge last winter), the team ensured that the crane work was done early to avoid potential delays and it seems to have worked – they are right on schedule.
Currently the team is building up the last layers of the bridge, preparing the road for surfacing and digging pits for the reinstatement of Welsh Water pipes. Karl explained that two main water pipes run under the bridge: one for local services and one that supplies the Celsa Steel Works. On uncovering the original pipes, they found lots of pinholes and leaks in the pipes, necessitating a complete renewal of the piping, which wasn’t anticipated. The services pipes will be fed through channels in the prefabricated beams that make up the bridge.
This is not the only challenge that the team has faced; trespass and theft have been a problem on the track-side site. The theft of a bundle of cables back earlier in the year caused problems and, in a separate incident, the site security guard was attacked in the compound and had to lock himself in a cabin for safety. His attacker went on to smash up his van before leaving the site empty handed.
Apart from a few such incidents, Karl assured me that things had gone well and that the team had received a great level of support from local people, for which Karl would like to issue his thanks. In his words, locals had been ‘cracking’ and had shown a keen interest in the work being undertaken.
I asked Karl about the earthquake-like tremors that have recently shaken people in surrounding streets and was told that the tremors were not part of the bridge work but were caused when the foundations for the electrification masts were put in the ground. The masts are spaced 50 meters apart along each side of the track and the work to put in the foundations has now been completed in the vicinity of the bridge. If anybody has concerns about this work, Karl would encourage them to call the Network Rail helpline – details at the bottom of this article.
I also asked Karl if there was any noisy night work planned over the Christmas period and he assured me that there was not, though the standard daily work will continue on the bridge.
The new bridge will look a bit different from the old one, though it will be the same width. The sides of the bridge are made up of 38 giant reinforced concrete parapets, weighing around 19 tonnes each. The parapets are made to EU regulations designed to absorb impact from vehicles and have a stone effect embossed on the concrete (the same effect will be seen on Splott Road Bridge and Maerdy Bridge in Rumney).
So what’s left for the team to do? According to Karl, the order of the remaining work is as follows:
- Finish building base layer
- Build pavements
- Put in kerb stones
- Add the tarmac in layers
- Add road furniture (that’s street lights to you and me)
- Add angles for water drainage
Network Rail is in discussion with Cardiff Council about painting cycle lanes on each side of the road but this has yet to be confirmed.
Unlike Windsor Road Bridge, Beresford won’t have railings separating the pavements and car lanes. Road markings and parking on the bridge will be the same as they were before the rebuild.
The other job that Network Rail has committed to is replacing the children’s park behind Horwood Close, something they are currently working on with Cardiff Council’s Parks Department. The park will have new equipment and the layout may be slightly different from the old park. The grassy part of the park may come along later than the play things element or the area may be fenced off until the grass reaches maturity.
After the projected is completed, Network Rail will also reinstate the fence at the back of Horwood Close, so that there will no longer be access to the railway tracks via the housing estate.
Once the bridge is open, the temporary footbridge will be removed over a weekend.
The bridge will have an official opening, though details have yet to be determined. One cool thing is that the old metal signs will be renovated by a railway enthusiast and placed back on each end of the bridge alongside the new plaques, giving a continuous history of the bridge(s). Another cool thing is that I got to walk from one end of the new bridge to the other and became the first non-employee to set foot on it! Yes, I was genuinely excited about this and yes, I am that easily pleased!
Towards the end of the visit, talk turned to Splott Road Bridge and plans to replace it. Currently Network Rail is conducting surveys of the basements of houses surrounding the bridge to scope structural integrity. Once the surveys have been completed, Network Rail will confirm plans for the bridge works.
Karl told me that they were expecting the same challenges with redirecting utilities and admitted that Splott Rd may go down to single lane for short periods while Beresford Rd is still closed as Network Rail does some of the utility work in advance.
Karl Gilmore (Programme Manager) also advised that a survey completed on the citadel at the corner of Splott Road and Pearl Street concluded that it was at risk of imminent collapse and informed the Council and the citadel property owner who took the decision to demolish the building.
So there you have it – the latest news on Beresford Road Bridge replacement.
If you have any concerns about the work being carried out, you can contact Network Rail on
Helpline: 03457 11 41 41
You can access the last Inksplott article on Beresford Rd Bridge here