One of the most complex highway schemes ever seen in the UK is entering a critical new phase.
The mammoth three-month-long task to remove Liverpool’s flawed Churchill Way Flyovers is continuing this week, with the first two spans to be removed tomorrow morning (Thursday, 19 September).
Each weighing 485 tonnes, the 25 metre long sections are being painstakingly cut today over a 10 hour long process using a diamond wire cutting technique.
The first of 20 spans to be dismantled, this section sits at the western end of the northern flyover. Once cut free from the structure, they will be supported tomorrow morning by a specialist transporter and moved within the site compound, where they will then be lowered using a specialist jacking gantry to ground level. They will then be cut into smaller 40 tonne sections, before being taken away to a holding site.
Contractors for Liverpool City Council undertaking the hugely complex engineering scheme devised the unique methodology to overcome the additional problem of operating within the confines of a densely built up part of Liverpool city centre.
The dismantling process will then escalate this weekend when the two middle spans of the northern flyover, which stand more than 15 metres above Byrom Street, are also removed.
To facilitate this gargantuan dismantling challenge a full weekend closure of Byrom Street will begin at 7pm on Friday, September 20 before re-opening at 6am on Monday, September 23.
The road closure means the Birkenhead (Queensway) Tunnel will be shut to Liverpool-bound traffic only (except buses and emergency vehicles) between 7pm on Friday 20 September and 6am on Monday 23 September. Wirral-bound traffic will be able to use the tunnel as normal.
The Wallasey (Kingsway) Tunnel will be open as normal but is expected to be busy, and congestion, as a result of the works, is expected to affect both the approach and exit to the city centre, including the Tunnels. Those wishing to travel into and through Liverpool city centre this weekend are encouraged to use public transport and to allow plenty of time for your journeys.
Merseytravel have provided updated information which can be viewed online at: www.merseytravel.gov.uk/churchillwayflyovers
Everton FC also have a home match at Goodison Park on Saturday, against Sheffield United (kick off – 3pm), and congestion is expected before and after the match.
When Byrom Street re-opens on Monday, 23 September, there will be a lane restriction which is expected to impact on traffic exiting Queensway into Liverpool, leading to congestion at peak travel times. As a result, those wishing to travel during the peak are asked to consider using public transport or Kingsway Tunnel as an alternative.
The flyover footbridges, which were used to access Liverpool John Moores University’s Byrom Street campus, have now been fully removed. Pedestrians needing to get to the LJMU campus can go via Dale Street and Hatton Garden to Great Crosshall Street or via William Brown Street, Islington and Hunter Street (when not fully closed).
Flyover Deconstruction – The Process:
The removal of the 50-year-old flyovers – each of which are more than 240m in length – is one of the most complex highways engineering schemes ever seen in the UK.
Following the more traditional demolition of the flyovers footbridges, this second phase will involve heavy machinery – which can take weight loads of up to 1,000 tonnes – removing individual spans in a pre-determined sequence.
Each span – the heaviest weighing up to 600 tonnes (more than a Boeing 747) – will be temporarily supported, before being cut free and moved on to a special transporter to a nearby compound, where it will be lowered to ground level, cut into smaller sections and removed off site to be crushed.
The innovative methodology, devised collaboratively between Amey Consulting, GRAHAM and their specialist contractors, means the deconstruction can take place without having to implement a full road closure on two major arterial roads servicing Liverpool city centre and the Queensway Tunnel.
The compound at Fontenoy Street, which will see the sections cut into smaller pieces, has required tree removal, but the city council has plans to double tree numbers as part of a new post-flyover masterplan for the area.
The phased dismantling of the two flyovers – which connect Lime Street to Dale Street and Tithebarn Street – has also been devised to minimise vibrations to protect antique art and cultural collections, as well as wildlife housed at the Walker Art Gallery, Central Library and World Museum Liverpool – all of which sit next to the south flyover.
Liverpool City Council has approved this hyper-sensitive approach at a cost of £6.75m, after the two-lane highways were closed at the end of September 2018 following the discovery of construction flaws.
Once the deconstruction is completed in December, alterations will be made to the highway layout around the Hunter Street – Byrom Street – Queensway Tunnel entrance, to improve traffic and pedestrian movements.
Motorists and more information:
As well as this weekend, there will be further road closures at:
• Byrom Street (and therefore the Birkenhead Tunnel to Liverpool-bound traffic) on 4-7 October (weekend closure).
• Fontenoy Street – remains closed until 15 November.
• The closure of Dale Street from Byrom Street to Crosshall Street will be required from 4-14 October.
Surrounding car parks at Fontenoy Street, Dale Street, Primrose Hill and Hunter Street have all closed and will re-open as phases complete from mid- November to late December. If car journeys are necessary, motorists are being redirected to nearby car parks at Victoria Street, Mount Pleasant, Queen Square and St Johns Shopping Centre.
• For more flyover information including all road closures and diversions go to: www.liverpool.gov.uk/churchillwayflyovers
• Regular updates can be found on Twitter @lpoolcouncil or at the city council’s Facebook page.
Funding for the deconstruction comes from the Liverpool City Centre Connectivity (LCCC) Phase 1 Grant Fund Agreement, which is supported by a £38.4m grant from the Local Growth Fund with city council match funding of £8.7m. Local Growth Funding is awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and invested through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority through its Strategic Investment Fund.
Councillor Sharon Connor, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet member for Highways, said: “The dismantling of the Churchill Way Flyovers is a hugely complex challenge and has required a phenomenal amount of planning to ensure its safe removal.
“This new phase is a critical point in the process and, at the same time, in the history of Liverpool as it also marks the beginning of the end for the flyovers which have stood above the city centre for the past 50 years.
“The engineers in the council’s highways team and our contractors deserve a lot of praise for the unique solutions they have come up with to bring such a huge structure down in a methodical fashion that also minimises the impact on surrounding buildings and our city centre’s road network.
“There will be unavoidable disruption at key times, like this weekend, and we thank motorists for their patience and understanding.
“Public transport will always be the best option for these weekend closures and we urge people to plan ahead when thinking about journeys to the city centre at these times.”
Stephen McFaul, Contracts Manager for GRAHAM, said: “This is a critical project on behalf of Liverpool City Council and will support the continued transformation of the flyovers into a safe, secure area. We are currently working on a number of projects throughout the city and will once again apply our collaborative approach and technical expertise to maximise the success of this project.”
Gary Evans, Head of Customer Delivery at Merseytravel, said: “Whilst the work to deconstruct the Churchill Way Flyovers is ongoing, we’re working closely with Liverpool City Council and other partners to keep people moving.
“We advise people coming into the city centre to drive only if absolutely necessary and consider other options including bus, train, walking or cycling.
“Road closures mean that the Birkenhead Tunnel will not be open to Liverpool-bound traffic from early Friday evening until Monday morning. So it’s important to plan ahead and leave plenty of time for your journey to allow for road diversions and rail engineering works in place this weekend.
“For more information about travel options, please check the Merseytravel.gov.uk or bus and rail operator websites and journey planners.”