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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Country's biggest crane lifts part of Carlisle bypass into place

Britain's biggest crane – weighing a staggering 1,200 tonnes – is being used to lift a critical crossing into place on Carlisle’s new western bypass.

CNDR beam crane photo
The beam is lifted into place

Engineers have called in the giant machine as they piece together the new River Eden Bridge, without which the road would not become a reality.

Work, being carried out just off Burgh Road – working towards creating a link with Cargo Road – marks another crucial phase in the landmark construction scheme.

And the sight of the giant crane working is an impressive one, as it hoisted four massive steel beams weighing 170 tonnes each from the Cargo side of the structure on Wednesday and yesterday.

Specialists will dismantle the crane and transport it to the other side of the Eden.

They will then rebuild it – an operation that needs another crane to complete – before lifting in connecting beams. On that side, there will be two, each weighing 250 tonnes to manoeuvre.

Once complete, the bridge will measure 156 metres.

Building the bypass – formally known as the Carlisle Northern Development Route – is part of a £176 million private finance initiative (PFI) contract between Cumbria County Council and Connect Roads, part of construction giant Balfour Beatty. Birse Civils is the contractor on the scheme.

Malcolm Findlay, Connect’s construction and design manager, said: “This is the critical path. Unless this bridge is in place, the scheme will not happen.”

Beams for the bridge have been transported to sites on each side of the Eden in sections and welded together.

Work on the long-awaited western bypass – a five-mile road, linking the A595 at Newby East with junction 44 of the M6 at Kingstown – started last October.

The northern section of the route, from the motorway to Kingmoor Park, is due for completion next August with the entire road expected to be open the following spring.

Those timescales remain on-course despite challenging weather conditions last winter.

Mr Findlay said: “The progress has been good. The vast majority of the earthworks have now been completed and we have quite a few stretches of asphalt down.

“The community and everyone we speak to have been impressed by the scheme.

“Once we have these beams in place and welded together, it will be another major milestone for the scheme. It has taken a lot of planning to get to this stage.”

As well as the community’s praise, the project’s progress has also been marked by the construction industry with a considerate contractor’s award for the work so far.

The outside of the beams being used to build the new bridge have been painted green to blend in with the surroundings.

Concrete piles at the bottom of the crossing will also be clad in local sandstone.

As well as the building of the new road, the PFI deal with Connect includes the maintenance of it and a number of others in Cumbria for 30 years.

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