News | 12/07/19

Flawed flyovers set to be demolished this Autumn

Demolition of the Churchill Way flyovers in Liverpool city centre could begin this September.

A report to Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet next Friday (19 July) is seeking permission to remove the 50-year-old structures in a phased demolition, at a cost of £6.75m, which would be completed by the end of the year.

The two-lane, concrete highways – opened as part of a city centre inner ring road scheme that was later cancelled – were closed at the end of September 2018 after construction flaws were discovered.

This led to a detailed inspection that concluded that multiple, significant defects could not be reversed and it would cost the council £7.2m just to maintain the structure, with no traffic allowed, for the remaining 20 years of its lifespan.

The proposed demolition, which includes the removal of the flyovers and associated footbridges, would see the installation of a temporary footbridge over Hunter Street; and minor highway improvements to address current traffic issues in the area. Several trees in the area will need to be removed but the council would seek to replant.

At the same time Liverpool City Council’s highways team will develop a detailed proposal to improve connectivity in the area and a masterplan will be created to manage the land released by the demolition.

Minor alterations will also be made to the highway layout around the Hunter Street – Byrom Street – Queensway Tunnel entrance, to improve traffic and pedestrian movements. Engineers have also investigated potential impact to other nearby roadwork schemes, specifically the new city Bus Hub currently under construction on Old Haymarket, and concluded the demolition will have no negative effect.

Funding for the proposed demolition will come from the Liverpool City Centre Connectivity (LCCC) Phase 1 Grant Fund Agreement and subject to Cabinet approval, the city council will seek to apply for a grant increase of £1.75m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to deliver the scheme.
• For more information about the £45m LCCC programme, which is a key scheme within the council’s wider £500m Better Roads programme, please go to: https://liverpool.gov.uk/betterroads

Councillor James Noakes, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The Churchill Way flyovers are a relic of a cancelled highways plan from half a century ago and given the overwhelming weight of evidence against their safety, their removal is now the only viable option.

This demolition is going to be a complex process. It cannot be done overnight and a lot of thought is going into the methodology to ensure the inconvenience to city centre traffic will be kept to a minimum.

Detailed designs for junction improvements are also a key element in making the area a better experience for everyone, post demolition, and we will be working hard to keep all of our city centre stakeholders and the public informed of how the new traffic proposals will look.”

Trevor Cherryholme, Principal Project Manager, Amey Consulting, said: “The safety of the public is our primary concern and our inspection of the Churchill Way Flyovers found that they are no longer adequate to carry vehicles or pedestrians.

Our primary areas of concern are the poor quality of original construction, subsequent deterioration and the current signs of structural distress.

More specifically, poor steel placement and spalled concrete, collapsed or failed formwork, failed drainage and signs of overstress in the deck are among our most significant findings. It is our view that there is no safe option other than demolition.”

A BRIEF HISTORY:

The Churchill Way Flyovers consist of two separate roads linking Lime Street to Dale Street (south flyover) and Tithebarn Street (north flyover), running directly behind the city’s museums and galleries in William Brown Street.

Opened in 1970 they were closed in the 1980s for repairs and further remedial works were carried out in 2005 and 2013 as part on a regular maintenance regime.

Following new legislation on major highways structures, a Post Tensioned Special Inspection (PTSI) began in 2016 to assess the northern and southern sections, both of which are more than 240 metres in length. This found problems with drainage, internal support, barriers and bearings which led to the flyovers being shut last autumn for investigations into potential hidden defects and potential overstress.

An independent engineering report was handed to the city council in February 2019, following more than 140 different type of structural testing, involving removal of the road surface, drilling into the decks and underground assessments of every supporting column. The tests had found multiple flaws including that the quality of the concrete and steel was poor, with tendons and ducts corroded and signs of structural distress including cracking over some supports. It concluded the structures could not be strengthened.