A footbridge over the M5 near Patchway is to be dismantled this weekend, necessitating the full closure of the motorway for up to 15 hours.
The Pegwell Brake footbridge (also known as the Banana or Rainbow footbridge), provides a link between Patchway and the village of Over. It carries a public footpath that runs from the back of houses in Park Leaze, Patchway, down through woods on the Almondsbury escarpment before emerging onto Over Lane.
The bridge is being replaced as part of the £89 million M4/M5 Managed Motorways project that will see hard shoulder running introduced at peak times on the M4 (between the top of the M32 and the Almondsbury Interchange) and the M5 (between Cribbs Causeway and the Almondsbury Interchange) from early 2013.
The M5 will be closed between junctions 17 and 16 northbound and junctions 15 to 17 southbound from 7pm on Saturday 10th November and the motorway will re-open by 11am on Sunday 11th November.
The southbound entry slip road at junction 16 (A38, Aztec West) will be closed an hour earlier at 6pm.
Carriageways that are to be closed will be reduced to single lane running prior to the closure time.
The 220-tonne, 50-metre concrete bridge will be dismantled into two sections, each of which will be hoisted and removed by cranes. This method of removal is required to avoid excessive vibration due to the presence of a pipeline on the northbound carriageway.
The footbridge will eventually be replaced with a new steel pedestrian bridge which is suitable for high-sided vehicles to pass under when the managed motorway scheme is fully operational and the hard shoulder is used as a running lane.
The new bridge is planned to be in place and available for use in the New Year.
Highways Agency project manager Paul Unwin said:
“Dismantling the bridge is a huge engineering feat and the only way that we can do this safely and quickly is by fully closing the motorway in both directions.”
“To minimise disruption for anyone planning to use the M5 during the closure, we have scheduled the works to avoid peak traffic times and events such as the half-term holiday. We have also been working closely with local businesses and organisations to ensure they are aware of the diversion routes in place over that weekend.”
“We strongly advise that people plan ahead, leaving plenty of time for their journeys and to drive safely via the diversion routes which will be clearly signposted.”
Diversion routes are described in full on the ‘Impact on your Journey’ tab of the M4 Junction 19-20 and M5 Junction 15-17 Managed Motorways page on the Highways Agency website.
Pegwell Brake bridge has been closed to pedestrians since 1st October and a signed diversion is in place. Contractor firm Balfour Beatty points out that the diversion is significantly longer than the stretch of footpath that has been temporarily closed.
Queries about the footpath closure should be directed to Balfour Beatty’s community relations team on 0800 432 0918.
Photo: Pegwell Brake footbridge – at the foot of the exposed southbound landing (pictured on 19th October 2012). [credit: Highways Agency; licence: cc by 2.0]