Work on the complex removal of the Churchill Way flyovers in Liverpool will get underway in September.
Contractors for Liverpool City Council have devised a dismantling process which will see the half-century old structures come down in sections up to 25 metres in length, with the highly complex job set to be completed in December.
The innovative methodology, devised collaboratively between Amey Consulting, GRAHAM and their specialist contractors, will enable the deconstruction to take place without having to implement a three month road closure on two major arterial roads servicing Liverpool city centre and the Birkenhead (Queensway) Tunnel.
The dismantling works will have a significant impact on how traffic gets in to and out of the city centre and moves around it. At key points in the programme, motorists will be advised to only drive if absolutely necessary, and instead to walk, cycle or take the bus or train. The work will also affect existing pedestrian routes, which will be subject to diversions (see pic below).
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.
To enable this highly complex process, the site will require three work compounds which will be erected on Monday, 26 August.
Surrounding car parks will all close – Fontenoy Street and Dale Street (23 August), Primrose Hill (26 August) and Hunter Street (27 August), and will re-open as phases complete from mid-October to late December. Motorists will be directed to nearby car parks at Victoria Street, Mount Pleasant and Queen Square.
The first phase of the dismantling process will begin on Monday 2 September, with the taking down of the three footbridges that sit underneath the two flyovers and are used to access Liverpool JMU Byrom Street campus. This will cause noise and dust in the area.
This will take two to three weeks for the contractors – GRAHAM – to complete, and will see a series of phased weekend road closures of Byrom Street and then Hunter Street. Pedestrians needing to get to the LJMU campus will go via Dale Street and Hatton Garden to Great Crosshall Street. There will also be a pedestrian diversion route available via Hunter Street, Islington, Commutation Row and William Brown Street.
Once removed, the focus of the engineering task will swing to the removal of the flyovers – each of which are more than 240m in length. This phase will involve heavy machinery removing individual spans in a pre-determined sequence.
Each span – weighing between 300 and 600 tonnes – 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. A total of 20 spans and supporting piers will be removed over a four month period.
The compound at Fontenoy Street, which will see the sections cut into smaller pieces, will require tree removal, but the city council has plans to double tree numbers as part of a new post-flyover masterplan for the area.
The flyover dismantling phase will run from Friday evening until Sunday night on the weekends of:
The closure of Hunter Street and Byrom Street over these weekends will mean the Birkenhead (Queensway) Tunnel will be shut to Liverpool-bound traffic only (except buses and emergency vehicles), with the tunnel closed from 1900hrs on Friday to 0600hrs on Monday. Wirral-bound traffic will be able to use the tunnel as normal. The Wallasey (Kingsway) Tunnel will be open as usual.
The scheme will also see:
- Fontenoy Street completely closed from 2 September until 14 October.
- Closure of the section of Dale Street from Byrom Street to Crosshall Street from 4-14 October.
- Cuerden Street, which sits immediately behind the major cultural buildings and provides access to the footbridge to the LJMU campus, will be closed for one month from 11 November to 20 December.
Once the deconstruction is complete, alterations will 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.
- Two information events have been arranged for the public to discover more about the scheme, the methodology and the timings of road closures. They will be held on Friday 23 and Wednesday 28 August from 10am-7pm at Liverpool Central Library on William Brown Street.
A BRIEF HISTORY:
The Churchill Way Flyovers consist of two separate roads linking Lime Street to Dale Street (south fl
yover) and Tithebarn Street (north flyover), running directly behind the city’s museums and galleries in William Brown Street.
Opened in 1970 – as part of a city centre inner ring road scheme that was later cancelled – 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. 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 types of
Steven McKinney, Principal Engineering Manager, Amey Consulting, said: “Our design engineers have worked closely with Liverpool City Council and demolition contractors, Graham Construction, on an innovative engineering solution that aims to minimise disruption and ensure the safety of the public. “Provisions have also been made to protect local landmarks such as museums and galleries. We believe this represents the best solution for the city and for local communities.”
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.
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.
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.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson 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 from independent experts about their safety, their removal was the only viable option. We simply have no choice but to take them down as soon as possible.
“This deconstruction is going to be a complex process. It cannot be done overnight and a lot of thought has gone into the methodology to ensure the inconvenience to city centre traffic and surrounding buildings is kept to a minimum – but people need to understand that this is going to cause a huge amount of unavoidable disruption.
“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 at every stage of the dismantling and how the new traffic proposals will look.”